AT&T FirstNet to Rebuild Network After Nashville Tornado

♫ MUSIC ♫ CHRIS: Tuesday morning, March 3rd around two o’clock in the morning we had a tornado set down just west of Nashville at John C.Tune Airport. ♫ MUSIC ♫ As you can see, the damage has been horrendous. (BIRDS CHIRPING) GREG: The situation on the ground, what we’ve seen is that the tornado has cut a swath about a half a mile wide through our city heading to the eastern part of Middle Tennessee. MICHAEL: The fact that the tornado came through this urban area late at night after midnight, a lot of folks were home, the kids were home away from the schools, a lot of folks were not in the businesses. We’ve seen warehouses where many, many people work that are just flat and absolutely demolished. And if this tornado had happened a few hours earlier, it would have been a lot more folks that lost their life. There would have been a lot more injuries. LORI: It’s scary. I mean you wonder if you know someone that’s hurt, or if there’s something that you can do, and it happened. There’s an area that’s roughly three miles from here that got hit and those areas are going to take a long time to recover. GREG: The primary challenge is access to the areas. The power companies come in and restore the areas first, so we obviously have plenty of safety concerns to make sure our folks are safe when they come into areas. And then also that we have good access where we can go in and assess what kind of damages we have. The network held up very well. We primarily focused on getting the cell towers back up and functioning, that allows wireless data to be transmitted, it allows our first responders to use our networks so that we can communicate. So that’s been our first priorities, and then we prioritize our restoration efforts based on what we find in those assessments. LORI: Well, I’ve seen AT&T get out there, and there’s charging stations that’s put up, and they’re trying to get people’s cell phones back on so they can let their families and everyone else know that they’re out there and that they’re okay. CHRIS: We had multiple cell sites down. We had central offices that were on generator power. We had over 50 RT sites that were down. Don’t really know how many network elements we had lost just in cable and fiber alone, but cell site recovery within 24 hours, is pretty amazing. We also staged a FirstNet SatCOLT truck here in Nashville at one of our locations. It was deployed on Tuesday morning, early. It was set up and online in the Cookeville area to provide FirstNet cell service. We called in additional SatCOLTs. There’s currently two deployed in the Putnam County, Cookeville area, and we’ve got one on standby. LORI: I think getting out in your community and making a difference is what we all need to try to do. GREG: This is where what I’ve seen through my career, where AT&T shines, it’s just where we have the best people, the best employees of anywhere in the world. And when we respond to outages and disasters like this, this is where you really see everyone pull together. This is where you really see the strength behind a company like AT&T. We will rebuild this network and it will be better than it was before, because it’s who we are and it’s what we do. ♫ MUSIC ♫

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