Wireless providers AT&T and Verizon are offering free texting, data and voice calls to customers in zones expected to be hit by Hurricane Laura.
Verizon said Wednesday that customers will not be charged for additional usage of voice calls, SMS or mobile data starting Wednesday through Sept. 1. The change applies to both prepaid and postpaid cellular service customers who reside in the zone.
Texas counties in the zone include Allen, Beauregard, Bolivar Peninsula, Chambers, coastal Galveston, coastal Harris, Evangeline, Galveston Island, Hardin, inland Galveston, northern Jasper, northern Liberty, northern Newton, Polk, Rapides, southern Jasper, southern Liberty, Tyler and Vernon.
Lousiana parishes include Acadia, Calcasieu, East Cameron, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Orange, Southern Newton, Vermilion and West Cameron.
AT&T will also waive additional voice, text and data charges for customers through Sept. 1 on limited plans, and in cases where charges have already been assessed, credits will be issued, a spokesperson said. The waiver applies to customers in 721 specific ZIP codes in Texas and Louisiana where the storm is expected to strike, according to a news release.
A T-Mobile spokesperson said most of its customers – as well as those the company gained from its merger with Sprint – are already on unlimited plans.
All three telecommunications companies said in news releases that they are mobilizing crews and equipment to respond to damage to their networks caused by Laura, which has grown into a 140-mph, Category 4 storm.
Laura is expected to make landfall late early Thursday morning near the Texas/Louisiana border. Current forecasts show Houston may see only minimal impacts from the storm.
Dwight Silverman is the technology editor for the Houston Chronicle. He manages the TechBurger website, writes about personal technology for HoustonChronicle.com and the print edition. He also writes a weekly tech column, also called TechBurger, and a weekly newsletter, Release Notes.
He has been with the Houston Chronicle since 1990 and has worked as an assistant state editor, business reporter, technology columnist, interactive journalism editor, social media manager and manager of the subscriber website. He moved to the website staff in 2000 and was responsible for helping bring blogging and social media to chron.com.
He’s also worked at the San Antonio Current, the San Antonio Light and the Beaumont Enterprise.
Silverman is a regular panelist on This Week in Tech, the popular tech news podocast at twit.tv, and is a former co-host of Technology Bytes, a weekly computer call-in show on KPFT-FM.
He is the author of several computer books, including « Running Windows on Your Mac » (Peachpit) and « Switching to a Mac: No Problem » (Wiley & Sons).
Silverman has taught journalism classes at the University of Houston, including a course on social media and news.
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