Bell Outlines Plans to Keep Customers Online During Wildfires, Hurricanes

As wildfires rage in parts of the country and hurricane season looms, Bell detailed how it is implementing strategies to ensure customers remain connected during extreme weather events.

A recent Nanos survey commissioned by the Canadian Telecoms Association in March 2024 revealed that over one-third of Canadians (39%) experienced service disruptions due to severe weather or natural disasters in the past year. In response, Bell has developed comprehensive plans to prevent outages and mitigate impacts when extreme weather strikes.

“The resiliency of our telecommunications networks is crucial during extreme weather events. Our customers rely on us to stay informed and connected with loved ones in these situations. Our teams have implemented the necessary people, plans, and resources to address the impacts of extreme weather this season,” said Stephen Howe, Bell’s Chief Technology and Information Officer, in an issued statement to iPhone in Canada.

Howe noted that Bell’s preparations were recently tested in Yukon, Northern BC, and Flin Flon, Manitoba, where wildfires damaged infrastructure. Thanks to their readiness, Bell quickly restored services where it was safe.

Here are strategies Bell says it is leveraging right now:

  • Daily Network Review: Continuous monitoring to ensure network stability year-round.
  • Preparation of Sites: Wireless cell sites, data centers, and central offices are equipped to maximize battery life.
  • Fuel Management: Ensuring generators and trucks are fueled and have access to additional fuel during and after severe weather events.
  • Generator Prioritization: Key wireless sites, high-density fiber routes, and public safety communications are prioritized.
  • Crew Deployment: Ready to deploy crews from other regions to support affected areas.
  • Safety Training: Technicians receive refresher training on working safely in hazardous conditions.
  • Coordination with Authorities: Communication with provincial Emergency Management Offices, Premiers’ offices, key federal ministers, and local partners for effective coordination.
  • Collaboration with Other Providers: Working together with other network providers.
  • Emergency Operations Center: Establishing a 24/7 Corporate Emergency Operations Center when impacts on customers are anticipated.

Additionally, Bell is transitioning from copper to fibre networks, which are more resistant to extreme weather, reducing the frequency and duration of outages.

Bell also offered some tips to prepare ahead of the next storm, such as keeping your devices fully-charged and also to have backup batteries on hand, in the event of power outages. The company said disabling Wi-Fi and location-based services can also reduce battery drain. The Bell accounts on X also have the most up-to-date information (that is if you have a signal to get online during a storm).

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