Verizon, AT&T restore cell service to Upcountry MauiVerizon, AT&T restore cell service to Upcountry Maui
Verizon Frontline and AT&T FirstNet emergency response services are working toward restoring mobile service in Maui, a Hawaiian island recently devastated by wildfires.
August 15, 2023
Verizon Frontline and AT&T FirstNet emergency response services are working toward restoring mobile service in Maui, a Hawaiian island recently devastated by wildfires. Fiber lines and power have been damaged in the fires, creating connectivity challenges for residents and first responders.
Both providers have restored cell service in Upcountry Maui and are working to restore service in additional regions impacted by the wildfires.
Maui's wildfires are the deadliest in US history. Cable and wireline companies in the disaster area reported 17,832 subscribers out of service, with 19 of the 21 cell sites in the region out of service, according to Light Reading's Nicole Ferraro.
Verizon restores service in Upcountry
Verizon has fully restored cell service in Upcountry Maui, in addition to Highway-37 in Ulupalakua and Keokea. The service provider is also making headway in bringing back connectivity to West Maui and has restored limited service in Napili to provide service to the Kapalua West Maui Airport, which is being used for public safety.
The Verizon Frontline Crisis Response Team has deployed about 90 Verizon Frontline services such as portable satellite assets, smartphones, routers and mobile hotspots to assist first responders in Maui, according to Massimo Peselli, the chief revenue officer for the global enterprise and public sector at Verizon Business.
"Alongside the Verizon Network team, we are there providing any support we can to assist those in wildfire mitigation and those who are beginning the assessment and recovery process," said Peselli in a LinkedIn statement.
Service is currently limited between the Lahaina Civic Center, which is receiving service from a cell on light truck (COLT), and Black Rock Beach in Ka'anapali, and in the Kapalua area, according to MarketWatch. Verizon has also deployed a High Altitude Wireless Kennawhat (HAWK), which is a tethered drone, to provide limited service in Ka'anapali.
Verizon deployed a tethered drone to provide limited service in Kaanapali.
(Image source: Verizon Business)
Verizon is providing free wireless device charging stations at three Red Cross shelters on the island of Maui and has deployed hotspots in Napili and Kapalua. Satellite-based mobile hotspots have also been deployed in evacuation centers.
Customers of Verizon-owned prepaid brands whose month-end service fell between August 10 and 13 are also eligible to receive an additional week of service. Both prepaid and postpaid Verizon customers living in Maui have access to unlimited calling, texting and data from August 10 to 23.
AT&T works to restore connectivity to western Maui
AT&T is in the process of restoring connectivity to Maui's western coast. The service provider said it has restored its cell sites in Upcountry Maui and Lanai, the latter of which is also helping in delivering connectivity to Lahaina.
"The portable cell site in Lahaina is providing dedicated connectivity for first responders as well as wireless service for customers, as network capacity allows," according to a statement by AT&T. This site also supports a nearby indoor Wi-Fi solution that the FirstNet team deployed for a public safety agency. A SatCOLT (satellite cell on light truck) is providing dedicated connectivity for first responders and wireless service for customers in Lahaina.
"You get a SatCOLT, and you get a SatCOLT, and you get a SatCOLT," is the likely refrain of the AT&T worker who's pointing, as the team works to restore service in Maui.
(Image source: AT&T)
AT&T also deployed "additional network assets" to support public safety agencies in Wailuku.
In north Ka'anapali, AT&T restored its cell sites by using a portable satellite or emergency communications portable (ECP) for backhaul. The ECP transports wireless calls and data.
A SatCOLT was also deployed in the Ka'anapali area, and FirstNet Mini CRDs (compact rapid deployables) are providing wireless coverage and Wi-Fi for a public safety agency at a Ka'anapali hotel in Black Rock Beach.
The AT&T FirstNet Response Operations Group (ROG) has added a Mini CRD to bring wireless coverage and Wi-Fi from a Ka'anapali hotel rooftop at Black Rock Beach. ROG and the AT&T Network Disaster Recovery team installed a wireless solution for public safety at the Kapalua Airport.
Emergency Communications Portable restoring a cell site in Ka'anapali.
(Image source: AT&T)
Meanwhile, AT&T's Hoku, a "ROG the Dog" therapy dog, is making the rounds to boost morale at local public safety agencies.
That's a very good boy! Hoku the therapy dog is hard at work boosting morale for those impacted by the wildfires in Maui.
(Image source: AT&T)
AT&T installed a charging station at its AT&T retail store in Kahului for Maui residents and is providing free Motorola loaner phones with unlimited service to people in need on Maui.
AT&T installed a charging station at its AT&T retail store in Kahului for Maui residents.
(Image source: AT&T)
An AT&T drone operations pilot is also surveying Maui using a camera drone to assess any damage to AT&T's cell sites.
Update: "Communications are critical following a major disaster to further emergency response, reconnect people with loved ones and ensure the safety of the communities affected," said Chris Sambar, president of AT&T Network, in a statement. "It's why our Network and FirstNet teams continue to work around the clock to restore service in Maui, guided by on-the-ground feedback from local, state and federal officials. We will continue to dedicate resources and work closely with the first responder community to ensure communications solutions are in place where they need it most."
The service provider is currently waiving overage charges to provide prepaid and postpaid customers in areas impacted by the wildfires.
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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