T-Mobile and other carriers in the United States often respond to significant disasters to make things easier for affected customers, and Hurricane Harvey is no exception. Between today and September 1, all T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers in affected areas of Texas and Louisiana will be able to send and receive both phone calls and text messages for free. Outside parties contacting T-Mobile customers in the affected areas will still have to pay applicable fees from their own carrier, and this action does not affect mobile data allotments. Data usage will move along as usual, while those whose plans include limited calling or texting will see contact begin to be counted again as of September 2.
T-Mobile posted about its preparations for the 2017 hurricane season, along with tips for customers on how they can increase their odds of having a working phone during any disasters, such as fully charging your phone before a bad storm, keeping calls short to not tie up network resources, and keeping your phone in a plastic bag to keep it dry. On T-Mobile's end, the company stated that it normally sets up command centers and stations response teams near areas that are expected to be hit by natural disasters. T-Mobile also uses power backups and cellular stations on wheels to help ensure that its network stays up and running during disasters.
T-Mobile seems to be the first US carrier to post up news of free contact in affected areas of Hurricane Harvey, and other carriers are likely to do the same, as they have in the past. T-Mobile's disaster response typically falls along the same lines as this announcement. The carrier allows free basic communication to and from the disaster zone in order to allow affected parties to contact emergency services and loved ones more easily. This was the case with Hurricane Patricia. When disasters happen in other parts of the world, T-Mobile may allow customers to send and receive calls and texts with the affected country for free during a period shortly after the disaster, so that affected parties can let their loved ones know that they are okay, as was the case with typhoon Nepartak, when T-Mobile allowed customers to contact Taiwan for free.