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Don’t Be Caught Out in a Storm. Think About Multiple Wireless Vendors

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Let me just say this up front in the spirit of fairness. No one or no company can plan for every eventuality. Especially when severe weather is concerned. Last night the area where I live, and a good portion of the country to the west of us and along the east coast got socked by some pretty violent storms. I live in Northwestern Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. Winds caused most of the damage in my immediate area, knocking down trees and power lines, disrupting services of all kinds before the storm headed east. We still don’t know the complete aftermath of the storm but Virginia has been declared a disaster area due to the combination of the power outages and the extreme heat, which was obviously a contributing factor to the storms. Apparently winds were clocked at 85 MPH where I live. Given that those winds literally blew my back door open I can agree that they were pretty damn intense.

My house is still without power, and I’m not alone. Many in our area are in the same boat as the Governor has said that this is the largest non-hurricane power outage in the history of the state. Areas east of us are having problems with cooling centers, movie theatres and shopping malls being without power, which is tough in this extreme heat.

Of course being without electricity means that my Comcast broadband is out. Comcast is also out in locations in our area that do have power. Both Comcast and our electrical utilities say there is no prediction as to when service will be restored. For those wondering, the theatre where I work still has power but no Comcast. Call it a freak of nature but the area where the theatre resides maintained power after a few flicks on and off during the storm.

So, you might think that a power outage in today’s always connected mobile world shouldn’t be a real problem, right? Well partially. There’s some obvious AT&T tower damage where I live as service is sometimes on and sometimes not. Verizon on my iPad is a lost cause today. Fortunately, my wife’s phone uses Sprint, and we’re able to communicate with the outside world via that Network. I’m also able to get broadband access via a Sprint MiFi card, although that service has been spotty today as well. As an aside, both AT&T and Verizon should be ashamed of their little fun and games with the 4G labels in areas where there is no 4G service during a good day, much less a stormy one.

Every home should have a disaster plan for severe weather or other extreme emergencies. We do, and by and large ours worked. Although, even though my wife and I knew there was a threat of severe weather, we were both lazy and didn’t charge up our devices ahead of time. We ended up checking into a hotel overnight to beat the heat and were able to charge up then. But, what I’m realizing is that we were lucky that we have Sprint, AT&T, and Verizon accounts for our various devices, as we are able to reach out and communicate and find out information. (More storms may be headed our way tonight, although as I write this post, the National Weather Service just issued a warning that at this time there are no warnings for our area.)

Unfortunately, having plans with multiple carriers is expensive, and not for everyone. But in our case last night and today, it was well worth the expense.

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

1 Comment

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