DALLAS — Cellphone signal has been one of the main issues people have faced over the last 48 hours, as winter storm conditions have ravaged North Texas. In addition to sub-zero temps and absurdly cold wind chills, many have not been able to maintain contact with loved ones because they can’t even send a text message or make a phone call.
The cell towers around the area for all different providers are experiencing similar power loss issues to the ones Texans are facing in their homes. Those cell towers have backup generators and backup batteries, but even those can sometimes fail.
A spokesperson from AT&T provided the following statement about their handling of the winter storm:
We continue to closely monitor Winter Storm Uri and remain committed to keeping our customers, their families and the public safety community connected. Rolling power blackouts were ordered across Texas on Monday, and are anticipated to continue until the State’s weather emergency ends. Commercial power outages and damage from snow and ice may affect service for some wireless and wireline customers. We have generators supporting cell sites and we have teams refueling fixed generators as needed.
In advance of the storm, we initiated our storm preparedness plan, including the following network preparations:
- Topping off generators with fuel at our cell sites and switch facilities.
- Testing high-capacity back-up batteries at cell sites.
- Protecting our physical facilities against flooding.
A couple of tips on staying connected during severe weather:
- Be prepared for high call volume. When weather is severe, chances are many people will be attempting to place calls at the same time. The increased calling volume may create network congestion. If you get a “fast busy” signal on your wireless phone or a slow dial tone on your landline phone, hang up, wait several seconds and then try again.
- Try texting vs. calling. Because it requires fewer network resources, text messages may go through more quickly than voice calls.
- Save your smartphone’s battery life. In case of a power outage, extend your device’s battery life by putting it in power-save mode, turning off Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, deleting apps, or putting your phone in Airplane Mode. This may prevent you from using certain features, but will ultimately save battery power.