Verizon offers phone charging and free calling for Sandy victims

Verizon Wireless said it's dispatched emergency communication centers to parts or New York and New Jersey to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy stay in touch.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon
2 min read
Verizon has sent emergency communications centers to areas hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. Verizon Communications

Verizon Wireless said Thursday that it is helping Hurricane Sandy victims in New York and New Jersey who have lost power stay in touch with loved ones.

The company has deployed Wireless Emergency Communication Centers, or WECCs on Staten Island, New York, at Monmouth University in New Jersey, and at two locations in Toms River, N.J. These stations will provide public access to device charging and will also offer computer work stations. There will also be wireless phones and other devices available for visitors to use in order to contact family and friends.

Verizon is also providing mobile stores-on-wheels that can serve as fully functioning Verizon Wireless Stores on Staten Island and in Sea Girt, N.J., and Howell, N.J., near the Jersey Shore.

And at any of Verizon's stores in the Northeast that are open, the company is offering free device charging and free domestic calling to local residents. The company said that it's continuing to re-open stores throughout the area and it's continuing to restock inventory of device and accessories at the stores to meet its customers' needs.

Wireless communications have been hit hard by the mega storm that came ashore Monday evening. Verizon said that its wireless network has operated well in the aftermath of the storm. The company said Tuesday that 94 percent of its cell sites were operational. And yesterday the company said that figure had improved and now 96 percent of its cell sites are operational.

Anecdotally, Verizon Wireless service has fared better than service from other carriers in parts of New York and New Jersey, where the storm has done the most damage. But there have been complaints of poor service on Long Island, N.Y., as well as in Lower Manhattan.

The carrier said that it's busy making sure that service is restored to 100 percent of its customers. And the company has been deploying emergency network assets, including cell sites on wheels and mobile generators, to fortify its network.

Other wireless carriers have also sent emergency trucks into areas where their customers are without power and wireless service. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that AT&T is sending satellite trucks and charging stations into New York City to help customers affected by the superstorm.