Gov. Scott: Thousands Working to Restore Cellular Service


Gov. Scott: Thousands Working to Restore Cellular Service

Today, Governor Rick Scott announced that more than 2,000 telecommunications professionals working in 200 Communication Technician Repair Crew Strike Teams are fully mobilized in impacted counties working to restore cellular service. AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have deployed mobile cellular towers to provide service.

Governor Scott said, “After a catastrophic storm like Hurricane Michael, one of the most important things we can do is make sure families can connect with loved ones, find information on critical services and maintain open lines of communication with emergency response officials. At my direction, the Florida Highway Patrol has been working hand-in-hand with cellular service provider crews to get them access to service stations where repairs need to be made. I also directed the Florida Department of Transportation to provide excavators, heavy loaders, and chainsaw crews to assist cellular service providers in quickly accessing sites in the Panhandle.

“Since Michael’s impact, thousands of telecommunications professionals have deployed into impacted communities to begin rebuilding cellular networks and opening lines of communication. We will not stop this important work until service is fully restored and these impacted families can connect with the friends, family and resources they need to recover.”

The following updates on cellular service restoration have been provided to the State Emergency Response Team (SERT):

  • At the direction of Governor Scott, Florida Highway Patrol escorted cellular service provider crews to the affected areas this afternoon. See the video HERE.
  • Emergency communications crews have been attached to the law enforcement emergency push teams working task force missions.
  • At Governor Scott’s direction, the Florida Department of Transportation to provide excavators, heavy loaders, and chainsaw crews to assist cellular service providers in quickly accessing sites in the Panhandle.
  • The state has deployed 12 Public Safety Mobile Communications Trailers and Towers.
  • Thousands of public safety portable radios from the state have deployed to officials in the Panhandle.
  • The State Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS) has remained operational thanks to supplemental support and temporary power measures. In those areas where local law enforcement lost their own towers and connectivity, the State has provided local officials the ability to use SLERS connectivity and radios.
  • Communications support packages have been dispatched through the Florida National Guard to Holmes, Liberty, Jackson, Gadsden. Calhoun, Gulf, Franklin, and Washington counties.
  • AT&T has reported to SERT that its service in Franklin County has been restored.
  • AT&T has deployed:
    • 32 COWS (Cell on Wheels) and COLTs (Cell on Light Trucks)
    • Seven Emergency Communications Vehicles (ECVs) and Emergency Communications Portables (ECPs)
    • 1 Hazmat and Mobile Command Center
  • AT&T reports it has been working around the clock, deploying portable cell sites and recovery equipment. AT&T continues to deploy assets and is currently supporting affected areas, including but not limited to Mexico Beach, Apalachicola, Panama City, Blountstown, Port St Joe, Southport, Tyndall Air Force Base and Cypress.
  • AT&T has deployed network assets at the guidance of public safety. FirstNet SatCOLTs have boosted connectivity for FirstNet subscribers in hard-hit areas. These deployments are supporting national guardsmen, airmen, state patrol, trauma care, police, fire and rescue teams who have traveled from as far as Oregon.
  • Earlier this week, AT&T delivered hundreds of FirstNet-enabled devices to first responders who are without service from their commercial providers in parts of Florida.
    • AT&T has also delivered generators to emergency response and local command centers.
  • As recovery efforts and conditions allow, AT&T retail stores are open for people to charge their devices and connect to WiFi. Locations are available HERE.
  • AT&T announced that for customers in the areas affected most by the hurricane, it is automatically issuing credits and waiving overage charges from October 10 through October 14 to provide unlimited talk, text, and data access for AT&T wireless and AT&T PREPAID. More details can be found HERE.
  • Verizon’s “Big Red” trailer has arrived at the Bay County Sheriff’s Office, providing that office with full telecommunication operations including full satellite uplink.
    • Big Red is Verizon’s most robust deployable asset having cell and internet service, as well as multiple workstations with Chromebooks.
  • Verizon has also reported that it has restored full telecommunications capabilities to the Bay County Emergency Operations Center.
  • Verizon’s crews are working around the clock to repair severely damaged and destroyed fiber systems in Panama City, Panama City Beach and surrounding areas.
    • Several sites in the area have come back into service including Sneads, Altha, Chattahoochee, Rosedale, Alford, Jacob City, Campbellton, Graceville.
  • Verizon has deployed 10 additional COWs to the area which are ready to activate once the fiber systems are restored.
  • Verizon has deployed a Tactical Command Center to the Panama City Beach Police Department. This trailer provides command center capabilities with communications.
  • Verizon has nine SPOTs (mobile cell sites connected with a satellite link) including the following locations:
    • Springfield Police Department
    • Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center
    • City of Parker Police Department
    • VZW WECC Panama City Retail
    • Tyndall Air Force Base
    • FDOT Chipley Office
    • Bay County Emergency Operations Center
    • Panama City Police Department
    • Lynnhaven Emergency Operations Center
  • Verizon has a charging and connectivity station at Marianna High School and at the Verizon Wireless store in Panama City at 411A E 23rd Street.
  • Verizon has two trailers equipped with connectivity, five mobile workstations and an inflatable shelter.
    • One is stationed at Salvation Army locations in Panama City – one at Kmart and en route to Gulf Coast Regional Hospital
  • Verizon has 400 smart phone devices and 200 portable first responders and non-profits devices.
  • T-Mobile has reported that portable generators, COWs, COLTs, fuel trucks and other vehicles have been deployed in impacted areas of the Panhandle.
  • T-Mobile is delivering hundreds of cell phones to a shelter in Bay County for families to use.
  • The T-Mobile engineering team has deployed COWs to four shelter locations in the impacted area that need service in addition to other COWs and COLTs that are being deployed into the area.
  • T-Mobile has two mobile sales trucks in Panama City. They are equipped with car chargers, home chargers, USB chargers, battery packs, phones, and about 150 cases of water.
  • T-Mobile has ordered phones, hotspots, and charging devices in addition to what it already has in the area that will be delivered early next week.
    • Additional mobile sales trucks that are being staffed and loaded and will be coming into the area in the coming days.
  • T-Mobile is offering free calling/texting/data for active postpaid and prepaid customers in Florida who are not already on an unlimited plan. (Pay as you Go and postpaid plans that do not include data will receive free talk/text only). Area codes included are:
    • Florida: 850, 352, 386, 251, 334
Updated: Sunday, October 14, 2018
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