What the Tech? How to Prepare for Data Disruptions

You never fully realize what life would be like with no internet and no cellular service until it happens.

That’s what happened to thousands of AT&T customers in the southeast. The Christmas morning explosion in downtown Nashville, Tennessee happened just outside a large AT&T data center, knocking out service of both the internet and cellular service for customers in parts of Tennessee, Kentucky, and Alabama.

Widespread disruptions that last several days are rare but possible no matter where you live. There are things you can do to make yourself and your family less vulnerable to long-term disruptions.

Are you “all-in” with one company providing internet, television, and phone service? You may be saving money by bundling everything with one company but if that company suffers a major outage, you could lose all contact with the outside world.

AT&T customers in middle Tennessee, southern Kentucky, and North Alabama who have fiber internet and phone service were
unplugged for several days. It isn’t a bad idea to diversify your connections by using multiple companies for those services.

You could also pick up a pay-as-you-go plan through one of the other cellular providers. These plans require no long-term monthly payments. You either purchase or bring your own phone to another provider and pay for a certain amount of minutes or data. In an emergency, you can use that secondary phone and add more data as you need it.

Do you have cash on hand? When the AT&T data center was damaged many stores and restaurants in the southeast could no longer take debit and credit cards. Some of those retailers closed for the weekend while others accepted cash only.

Major disruptions can also affect ATMs making it difficult to access cash in a bank account. I’m surprised when I hear people say they never use cash. It’s understandable nowadays but having no access to cash makes you vulnerable to being unable to pay for groceries should there be an outage.

Internet outages are especially difficult for cord-cutters who depend on YouTubeTV, Hulu, Sling, or other streaming services.

AT&T Internet customers could not stream content of any kind to their televisions. It’s critical to have at least one television equipped with an over-the-air antenna.

These are not very expensive and will allow you to stay informed by watching local news channels. Antennas are also very important for cord-cutters who rely only on streaming services in the event of severe weather. Some streaming services do not carry local stations.

Widespread data disruptions are uncommon but they do happen so it’s important to prepare for the possibility you won’t be able to connect to a cell tower or the internet.

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