BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) is prepared for the arrival of Ernesto, as either a hurricane or tropical storm, on the Florida coast. Through its work with the Federal Communications Commission and government agencies, BellSouth has addressed issues related to first responder status and access to impacted areas.
BellSouth is maintaining active dialogue with its partners and suppliers to ensure they meet the company’s supply needs before, during and after the storm hits. Through these preparedness efforts, BellSouth will be able to maintain power, provide continuous connectivity and avoid widespread outages.
“BellSouth has a tremendous amount of hurricane experience; however, the unprecedented damage during last year’s hurricane season taught us a great deal about our network and what we needed to do to make it even stronger,” said Bill Smith, BellSouth’s Chief Technology Officer. “We are confident in our readiness and ability to keep our customers connected or, at a minimum, reconnect them quickly.”
Since last year, BellSouth has done a number of things to prepare for the 2006 hurricane season. Those preparations included increasing its supply of emergency generators to provide power to its network in the event commercial power is lost. Currently, many of BellSouth’s switching facilities include permanent generators, some of which are fueled by natural gas and do not require re-fueling. Several additional steps have been taken to prepare for this hurricane season.
“Just as important as our preparedness efforts, we want residents and businesses in Florida to be equally prepared,” continued Smith. BellSouth offers customers several tips to stay safe, smart and connected before, during, and after a hurricane or other natural disaster.
Before the Storm:
– Be sure you have a “Hurricane Phone” — a traditional wire line phone available in case your power goes out. The base of a cordless phone requires commercial electricity and will not work in a power outage.
– Check out the Community Information Pages in local editions of The Real Yellow Pages® from BellSouth. The section includes critical information for hurricane and severe weather planning, survival, and recovery. It also can be found online at http://www.realpageslive.com/.
– Designate a friend or family member outside the storm area as a central contact. Plan for everyone in your family to communicate with that person to relay status and location information.
– Ensure that your home and business are equipped with the proper telephone services to re-route communications in the event of a service interruption. BellSouth offers products like BellSouth® Voice Mail, CrisisLink(SM), Remote Access Call Forwarding, Call Forwarding Don’t Answer and Call Forwarding Busy Line.
– Make sure that your wireless phones all work properly and are charged and have batteries and car chargers available.
– Program all emergency contact numbers into your Cingular Wireless® phone. Make sure that everyone in your family has the home, work and cell numbers of family members, friends and co-workers with whom they will want to communicate.
– Consider additional cell phones for your family’s use or for storage in your safe room/basement. The Cingular® Family Talk and Prepaid plans offer great options for staying in touch during an emergency.
– Consider downloading new tools that will give you the latest weather forecasts and traffic updates. Cingular offers tools such as My-Cast Weather, available for download at http://www.cingular.com/media, to help you stay up-to-date over your wireless device.
– BellSouth posts emergency contact information on its Web site at http://bellsouth.mediaroom.com/. During a hurricane or other severe storm, BellSouth will update the site with status information about the BellSouth network.
During the Storm:
– Use your phone for necessary calls only, leaving lines open for emergencies.
– During a power outage, your phone line may be inoperable if your cordless phone, caller ID unit or other telephone equipment requires external power. Plug a non-electrical telephone directly into a phone jack to verify if you have service.
– During periods of extremely high calling volume, you may experience a slow dial tone. If you don’t hear a dial tone immediately, wait a few seconds or hang up and try your call again later.
– Consider short/text messaging service (SMS) as a communications alternative. Sending a text message requires less signal strength and can be a fast and effective alternative to voice calls during an emergency.
After the Storm:
– You may encounter delays in getting calls through because of high demand for service; be patient and keep trying.
– It is still a crisis situation – keep your calls short to allow emergency calls to get through.
– To request repair services in English or Spanish, please contact: 1.877.737.2478 for residential lines 1.866.620.6000 for business lines 1.888.341.2355 for hearing impaired customers (TTY) http://www.bellsouth.com/repair on the Web
About BellSouth Corporation
BellSouth Corporation is a Fortune 500 communications company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. BellSouth has joint control and 40 percent ownership of Cingular Wireless, the nation’s largest wireless voice and data provider with 57.3 million customers.
Backed by award-winning customer service, BellSouth offers the most comprehensive and innovative package of voice and data services available in the market. Through BellSouth Answers®, residential and small business customers can bundle their local and long distance service with dial-up and high-speed DSL Internet access, satellite television and Cingular® Wireless service. For businesses, BellSouth provides secure, reliable local and long distance voice and data networking solutions. BellSouth also offers print and online directory advertising through The Real Yellow Pages® and YELLOWPAGES.COM™ from BellSouth.
BellSouth believes that diversity and fostering an inclusive environment are critical in maintaining a competitive advantage in today’s global marketplace. More information about BellSouth can be found at http://www.bellsouth.com/.