AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Alltel, T-Mobile USA and other telecom service providers are sizing up the impact of Hurricane Gustav on their networks in and around Louisiana, and so far, there appear to be only limited service outages. AT&T mobilized about 2,000 personnel to assess damage and begin restoration efforts in the affected areas. The telco said its crews are working around the clock on service repairs in areas that remain without service. AT&T also is offering free Wi-Fi access at hundreds of hot spots in the Gulf Coast region, free wireless GoPhones with $15 in air time to residents forced out by mandatory evacuation and free phone calls for many other hurricane victims at its retail stores.
Gustav additionally triggered the second recent activation of the Federal Communications Commission's new Disaster Information Reporting System (DIRS), which allows network operators to disclose sensitive network information to federal authorities to help them better respond to such emergencies. The system was put in place after some network information was hard to come by in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. The DIRS recently was activated for the first time during Tropical Storm Fay last month, and may yet get another workout if Tropical Storm Hanna threatens the U.S.
AT&T held a big disaster recovery drill in May