BEDMINSTER, NJ — In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Verizon Wireless realizes families may experience intermittent communications with friends and family that remain in the Gulf Coast area. If getting through to a loved one's mobile phone has proved challenging, the company suggests reaching out by sending a text message, as these messages are a more efficient use of wireless networks than voice calls and have a higher success rate of getting through in many areas where service has not returned to normal. In some instances, such as with TXT Messages from Verizon Wireless, the messages are stored and forwarded, so if the person you are trying to reach is moving in and out of a wireless coverage area, the network will store the text message and try to resend it until they return to a wireless coverage area.
Text messaging requires the recipient of the message to have a text messaging capable phone, but the messaging feature is so prevalent on today's mobile phones that even many of the most basic phones have text messaging capabilities.
Most Americans have two ways to text message family and friends messages can be sent from a text messaging capable wireless phone or any email address. To send a text message from a wireless phone, simply input the 10-digit wireless number in the address line. Since wireless customers can exchange messages with customers of other carriers, you do not need to have the same wireless service provider as your friend or relative.
To send a text message from an email address, you need to know which company provides their wireless service, as each company has a specific format for wireless numbers. For example, Verizon Wireless customers can send TXT Messages via email to loved ones using the person's mobile number and the extension "@vtext.com." If the Verizon Wireless mobile number is 123-456-789 then the e-mail should go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know the person's wireless provider but are unsure of the format, contact the wireless carrier's customer service department wireless customer service representatives stand by ready to help customers with the basics of text messaging. James Nelson, director of customer service operations for Verizon Wireless' Texas/Gulf Coast region, said, "You can really make the difference in someone's life with a kind word or sincere thought."
To write a text message from a wireless phone, select the text messaging feature on their phones. Verizon Wireless customers should go to the Messages section and select New TXT Message. From there, simply type in a message using the phone's keypad. Many wireless phones allow you to type messages using one of three text modes:
- T9Word (T9) Mode: Use this mode to type text using one keystroke per letter. The phone translates keystrokes into common words by using the letters on each key and a compressed database.
- Abc (Multi-tap) Mode: Use this mode to type words using the letters on the phone's numerical keypad. You'll need to hit each key from one to three times to get the letter you want.
- 123 (Numbers) Mode: Use this mode to type numbers, using one keystroke per number.
Text Messaging Helped Reunite Families in Houston
For evacuees that were transferred to the Houston area, text messaging proved to be a viable communications alternative. Chuck Hamby, public relations manager for Florida, who spent several days at the Verizon Wireless Emergency Communication Center (WECC) in Houston, said, "Whenever people cannot get through to their family members with a call, typically the number is in the 504 area code, we urge them to send a text message. I'd estimate that we've sent hundreds of text messages from the WECC in Houston on behalf of evacuees, I've sent more than two dozen text messages myself after we could not reach their family in the 504 area code. I received a reply text message from two people and a phone call from one. Being able to use text messaging to reunite people brings us great satisfaction, as many people have lost all of their material possessions and the only hope they have left is that their families are safe."
For more information on Verizon Wireless' efforts to aid in relief for Hurricane Katrina survivors, including information on how to donate to the effort from your wireless phone, visit www.verizonwireless.com.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless owns and operates the nation's most reliable wireless network, serving 47.4 million voice and data customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.