How We Are Helping

California’s wireless industry is united in its efforts to keep our networks strong, resilient and prepared for emergencies. We can’t predict the future but we can do our best to prepare for it.

California’s wireless carriers strive to provide safe, reliable, and resilient service during emergency events and we have a number of tools we use to keep our systems strong and operational during emergencies we use a variety of tools, including:

  • Back-up power Where feasible, we install batteries at our cell sites as well as generators at critical sites throughout the state to keep them functional when commercial power is down. We also bring in temporary generators to provide additional power.
  • Portable cell sites Where feasible, we bring in equipment to provide coverage to areas that are experiencing limited or no service. We generally refer to this equipment as Cells on Wheels (“COWs”) or Cells on Light Trucks (“COLTs”).
  • Overlapping coverage Our networks are generally designed to provide a certain amount of overlapping coverage so even if some cell sites go down, a neighboring cell site(s) can often handle the traffic and enable us to continue providing service during an emergency situation.
  • 9-1-1 access Wireless networks are designed to complete 9-1-1 calls from another carrier’s customer in the event the customer’s network is temporarily out of service, as long as the customer’s wireless device is compatible.

Of course, there are certain situations where wireless service may not be available because of a natural disaster or a commercial power shut off and we are working hard to minimize those situations.

California’s wireless carriers also provide additional assistance and supplies to support customers in times of an emergency. This assistance may include setting up coverage/hot spots at shelters or evacuation centers and providing charging stations, and loaner mobile phones to members of the public, in addition to water, supplies and personal care items. Your wireless carrier may also allow customers to defer or phase payment for certain data, talk, and text charges for defined periods of time or to extend payment dates for service. Please contact your carrier to learn more about what they do for customers in times of emergency.

The California Public Utilities Commission also has information about consumer protections during emergency events.