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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – In the age of the internet, people have come to rely on their cell-phones to keep them up-to-date on the latest news, social media and viral cat videos.

On Thursday, State Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner called for companies providing cell-phone service in Florida to suspend data overage charges for customers in areas impacted by Hurricane Matthew.

Joyner said internet-based information is important in the aftermath of a major hurricane, when residents will experience widespread power outages and the loss of Wi-Fi services.

“As Floridians ready for evacuations or hunker down in their homes as this hurricane approaches, communication is more critical than ever,” Joyner said. “Data overage charges can not only be prohibitively expensive, but the last thing victims of this monster storm need to worry about. My goal is to keep them connected when Wi-Fi is down, and for most, using their cellular data will be the only way to do that.”

Joyner pointed out that AT&T provided similar relief to customers in Louisiana following major flooding, although the relief took the form of credits for data overage charges. Under Joyner’s proposal, customers would receive relief through the temporary suspension of data overage charges in advance of the storm hitting.

Joyner also urged Gov. Rick Scott to support the plan.

“The last time Florida was hit by a major hurricane, communications were not as heavily dependent on internet technology,” Joyner said. “As he continues to deliver storm updates and prepare emergency measures, I hope Gov. Scott agrees that these relief measures are needed to ensure that storm victims are kept abreast of the latest developments.”

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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