AT&T, T-Mobile open networks for Hurricane Sandy victims in NY, NJ

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AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and T-Mobile USA agreed to open up their networks for customers in New York and New Jersey affected by Hurricane Sandy, allowing them to roam onto each other's networks without extra fees. 

The two GSM carriers said that they will make the service possible in heavily impacted areas and where capacity is available and for subscribers with a compatible device. AT&T and T-Mobile said customers will be able to place calls just as they normally would, but their calls will be carried by whichever network is most operational in their area. The carriers said this will be seamless for customers without any extra changes to their current rate plans even if the phone indicates the device is attached to the other carrier's network.

AT&T and T-Mobile both use 850 MHz and 1900 MHz spectrum for GSM/GPRS/EDGE service, though T-Mobile uses 1700 MHz spectrum in the area for its UMTS/HSPA+ service and AT&T does not.

Each carrier has described varying levels of damage to its network as a result of the storm. AT&T said in a statement that it was closely monitoring its wireline and wireless networks for service disruptions and was "experiencing some issues" in areas heavily impacted by Sandy.

T-Mobile said in a statement issued Wednesday that its network engineers were working as quickly as possible to restore service to areas affected by the storm, and that in New York City its network was more than 80 percent operational.

"We are continuing to work closely with FEMA and our other federal, state, and local partners--as well as communications companies--in response efforts," said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowsk. "In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to expect the unexpected as the full picture of Hurricane Sandy's impact on communications networks develops. The crisis is not over. We'll continue to be intensely focused on helping with the full recovery of wired and wireless communications infrastructure."

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon that "overall, the condition of our communications networks is improving, but serious outages remain, particularly in New York, New Jersey, and other hard-hit areas.

He said the FCC is continuing to work closely with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and our other federal, state, and local partners, as well as carriers, in response efforts. "In the days and weeks ahead, we will continue to expect the unexpected as the full picture of Hurricane Sandy's impact on communications networks developsm" he said. "The crisis is not over. We'll continue to be intensely focused on helping with the full recovery of wired and wireless communications infrastructure."

For more:
- see this release
- see this The Verge article

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