Carriers open up networks in wake of hurricane

Posted by Emma Woollacott

AT&T and T-Mobile are opening their New York and New Jersey networks to each other's users to help people affected by Hurricane Sandy.

The country's two biggest cellular networks say their customers will be able to place calls as normal, with calls carried by whichever network is most operational in their area.

"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," they promise.

It's easy to implement the roaming agreement, as both companies use network technology based on the GSM and UMTS standards, allowing both voice and data traffic to be shared across the networks.

T-Mobile's also promising all its customers in New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania, whether contract or prepaid customers, that they'll still be able to use their service until November 8, even if they haven't managed to pay their bills.  

And as its stores reopen and regain power, it says, it'll let customers come in to recharge their phones.

Meanwhile, Comcast has posted a statement in a DSLposts forum saying it will open up its Xfinity WiFi hotspots to all in areas affected by the hurricane.

"Non-Xfinity internet customers should search for the 'xfinitywifi' network name and click on the 'Not a Comcast subscriber?' link at the bottom of the Sign In page, then select the 'Complimentary Trial Session' option from the drop down list," it says.

"Users will be able to renew their complimentary sessions every 2 hours through Wednesday November 7th."

The FCC has warned that as many as 25 percent of cellphone towers in 10 states have been knocked out of service by Hurricane Sandy.