In the devastating wake of Hurricane Ian, wireless carriers are offering free service for cell phone users hardest hit by the storm.
AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile all announced plans Thursday to waive charges and fees for customers in the areas that have been impacted by Ian. They’re also working with public safety agencies and emergency shelters to make sure cell phone service is maintained.
Ian, which made landfall Wednesday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane, blasted Florida with heavy rain, high winds and storm surge, endangering lives and causing untold billions of dollars in damage.
Florida residents were picking up the pieces Thursday as the storm moved northward toward the Carolinas.
AT&T, the nation’s largest wireless carrier, is cutting customers a break for a month on any overage charges.
“To keep wireless customers connected in areas that may be affected by Hurricane Ian, we’re waiving talk, text and data overage charges,” AT&T announced Thursday.
That includes AT&T postpaid and prepaid customers with billing addresses in 828 ZIP codes across Florida from now through Oct. 28.
The ZIP codes in question are spread throughout southwestern Florida, central Florida and Florida’s west coast. The affected area includes Fort Myers and Naples, as well as the Tampa Bay area and Orlando.
“To assist in the recovery, we’re now welcoming other carriers’ customers to roam on our networks so they can connect, even if their carrier’s service isn’t available after the storm,” AT&T added.
The nation’s second-largest carrier, Verizon, is eliminating all charges for a shorter period of time for customers affected by Ian. Verizon cell phone customers in ZIP codes that have been impacted by the hurricane will have access to unlimited domestic talk, text and data through Tuesday, Oct. 4, the company announced.
The ZIP codes are largely the same as the ZIP codes where AT&T is giving customers a break. Verizon customers should click here to see eligible ZIP codes, which include Brevard, Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Hendry, Highlands, Hillsborough, Indian River, Lake, Lee, Manatee, Orange, Osceola, Pinellas, Polk, Sarasota and Volusia counties.
Verizon also has a crisis response team setting up portable cell sites, Wi-Fi hot spots and free charging stations in the most heavily damaged areas.
T-Mobile, the nation’s third-largest carrier, is also offering unlimited talk, text and data through Monday, Oct. 3, for customers in much of Florida and parts of Georgia who have been impacted by Ian, the company announced.
Crisis teams are bringing in portable generators, mobile command centers and temporary wireless network solutions such as Cells on Wheels and Cells on Light Trucks.
Mike Brassfield ([email protected]) is a senior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
[email protected] (Mike Brassfield)