UPDATE — Cell service in the area affected by Harvey continued to dramatically improve over the long Labor Day weekend. Cells out of service now stand at 73 down from 150 on Sunday and down from 296 last Thursday, according to the FCC’s Disaster Information Reporting System.
Additionally, the FCC and the Federal Emergency Management Agency reduced the number of counties in Harvey’s disaster area to 13 — Texas: Aransas, Calhoun, Chambers, Hardin, Harris, Jefferson, Matagorda, Nueces, Orange, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria and Wharton — down from a high of 70 counties.
“As the storm raged on, our network continued to withstand the severity of the storm’s impact, with more than 98 percent of our sites in service,” said Lowell McAdam, CEO at Verizon. “To connect those in need, we’re offering free voice, and data to our postpaid customers and an extra 3GB of voice, and data to our prepaid customers in South Texas counties impacted by the hurricane through September 15th.”
Drone Companies Stand By to Help
Chris Moccia, executive vice president of Measure, the Drone as a Service Company, said his company has drone pilots in Texas and would be offering to the carriers to help get the cell towers back on the air, including generators, realtime video, trucks and supplies.
Measure was involved with the Verizon’s recovery following Hurricane Matthew last year, but catastrophic nature of Harvey brings a whole new scope to the services that will be needed.
“We anticipate having crews in the market for a while,” Moccia said. “There is a lot of flooding and a lot of damage to the infrastructure itself.”
DataWing Global is another drone company that is positioning itself to help in the aftermath of Harvey. DataWing drone pilots were scheduled to depart from the company’s San Antonio headquarters this morning to establish a mobile command center in Mathis, Texas, according to Jimmy Taylor,” senior vice president, business development, DataWing Global.
“We anticipate adding Part 107 pilots, aircraft and additional personnel to the area as the demand and need for resources develop over the next few weeks,” he said. “Until the weather clears and authorities allow access to the areas of devastation, DataWing will stand by collecting intelligence necessary to conduct tactical operations in a safe, prompt and legal manner.”
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.