Carriers, Comcast offer services to Sandy victims
By Hayley Tsukayama,
Areas affected by Hurricane Sandy continue their recovery efforts Thursday as electric companies, Internet service providers and wireless carriers scramble to get their networks back up to full operation.
While they repair their infrastructure, however, some are also introducing programs meant to help people affected by the storm.
AT&T and T-Mobile announced Thursday that they have enabled roaming on each other’s networks and that consumers can now place calls on either one. The two networks have similar cellular technology, making it easier to share their resources.
“This will be seamless for AT&T and T-Mobile customers with no change to their current rate plans or service agreements even if the phone indicates the device is attached to the other carrier’s network,” the companies said in a joint press release.
T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon are also telling consumers that they can bring their phones and power cords into stores to charge their phones.
As for Internet service, Comcast has also offered to open up its WiFi hotspots to anyone in the areas affected by Hurricane Sandy, regardless of their Internet service provider.
Mobile carriers are also allowing customers to donate to the Red Cross by text message. Texting the word “DONATE” to the number 90999 will give $25 to the charity; the word “REDCROSS” will register a $10 donation.
Google announced Wednesday that it has an eye on future disasters, releasing a new Public Alerts system that pulls data from several government sources to keep people informed about flood, fire, earthquake and other warnings across the country.
The company is also mapping the power outages, FEMA-declared disaster areas and other observations on a “crisis map” that pulls data from several sources. The company said in a Tuesday blog post that it is working on collecting more alert information from across the world.
“Public Alerts are primarily available in English for the U.S., but we are working with data providers across the world to expand their reach,” Nigel Snoad Google’s crisis response product manager said in a post.
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