Hurricane Ian: AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile Offer Free Wireless Service for Impacted Customers

The nation's top carriers are also working with public safety agencies and emergency shelters to ensure service is maintained.

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Dan Avery
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Phone with AT&T app

AT&T is offering free wireless services to customers affected by Hurricane Ian.

Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

As Hurricane Ian hit Florida, major wireless carriers announced plans to ensure their customers retain service during the crisis.

AT&T is waiving talk, text and data overage changes for both prepaid and billed customers impacted by the storm. The program covers customers in more than 800 Florida ZIP codes through Oct. 28. Customers may still receive alerts, AT&T said in a statement Wednesday, but accounts will reflect the credits and/or waived fees. 

"Our priority is to keep our customers connected, and we know this need is even greater before, during and after any major storm event," AT&T said in a statement. "While we've been working hard to prepare our network in advance of the hurricane, we want our customers to know we'll also support them if they experience any impacts from the storm."

On Thursday, AT&T allowed customers of other carriers to roam on its network, though it's not clear for how long. 

Read more: Hurricane Ian Nearing Florida: How to Prepare an Emergency Evacuation Bag

Verizon said earlier this week that residential and small-business customers in areas likely to be hit by Ian will receive unlimited calling, texting and data through Oct. 4. Prepaid and postpaid accounts with billing addresses in Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas, Polk and Sarasota are automatically included. Customers can also verify their eligibility by checking their ZIP code on a special relief website.

Verizon's crisis response team is also providing free communications support to public safety agencies responding to the hurricane, setting up portable cell sites, Wi-Fi hotspots, free charging stations and other services.

"Hurricane Ian has already disrupted the lives of millions of Floridians," Shawn Alexander, Verizon consumer vice president, said in a statement. "We hope this offer gives our customers one less thing to worry about so they can focus on staying safe."

T-Mobile, the nation's third-largest carrier, is also offering unlimited talk, text and data through Oct. 3 for those expected to be impacted by the hurricane.
The company's network and engineering teams are monitoring the hurricane's impact and preparing portable generators and temporary network solutions such as Cells on Wheels and Cells on Light Trucks. Mobile command centers, Wi-Fi trailers and other support equipment will also be deployed to emergency shelters when it's safe to do so.

A Category 4 hurricane, Ian slammed into Cuba on Tuesday and made landfall in Florida on Wednesday. Florida Gov. Ron De Santis had warned residents to prepare for a "catastrophic" natural disaster.

"You're going to have millions without power in this state within the next 48 hours -- no question," he told reporters Wednesday morning. "This is going to be one of those historic storms, and it's going to really shape the communities in southwest Florida and have a profound impact on our state." More than 2 million Floridians were under evacuation orders.

Read moreSee Inside the Eye of Hurricane Ian in Dramatic Aircraft Video