March 14, 2011 at 9:41 AM ET
Updated March 15, 7:45 p.m. EST:
AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, T-Mobile and Sprint are helping out individuals who are trying to reach Japan-based friends and family in the aftermath of the recent earthquake by providing free calling to the country.
AT&T is offering "billing relief" for its customers on calls made to Japan between March 11 and March 31.
This means that postpaid wireless customers will not be charged for international calls made to Japan from the United States or Puerto Rico — or for text messages to Japan which originate from a U.S. wireless number.
AT&T customers who have residential wireline service through the service provider are also eligible for billing relief:
Upon receiving their wireline bill, customers may call AT&T to receive adjusted calling for up to 60 minutes. In other words, no charges for up to 60 minutes of call time from the United States to Japan between March 11 and March 31.
Verizon has announced that it will be offering a similar deal to its own customers.
Verizon Wireless' postpaid customers will receive free calling to Japan from March 11 through April 10. During that time U.S.-based Verizon Wireless customers will also receive free text and multimedia messaging to Japan.
Verizon customers who have residential wireline service through the carrier will receive a similar offer:
All calls made from a Verizon residential landline to Japan will be rated at $0.00 per minute, from March 11 through April 10. Customers with Verizon World Plan (300, 500 or unlimited minutes of long-distance calling) can call Japan without using any minutes from their time-allotment blocks.
And there's more:
Additionally, Verizon Prepaid Phone Card charges for all long-distance calls placed to Japan from the United States will also be waived from March 11 until April 10
The company is also providing FiOS TV customers who are not subscribed to the channel free access to TV Japan through March 17. The channel location is 1770.
Later today, Comcast and T-Mobile USA also announced they are providing free calls to Japan.
Comcast said calls will be free for its Xfinity Voice and Business Class Voice customers. For calls made to Japan by customers during the timeframe from March 11 through April 10, Comcast will remove these charges from customers’ bills. Credits and waived fees will be automatic, as no action is required by customers. Comcast will cover fees for calls made to both landline and mobile phones. Comcast’s subscriber terms and conditions otherwise apply.
T-Mobile said in a statement that, effective immediately:
T-Mobile added that prepaid or postpaid customers interested in helping immediately can text “REDCROSS” to 90999, and your donation of $10 will be given automatically to the Red Crossto help with relief efforts. This donation will be charged to your T-Mobile phone bill, and 100 percent of the donation goes directly to the Red Cross. There is no per-text fee for this service for T-Mobile customers who do not have a messaging plan, nor will the text be deducted from your messaging plan. Similarly, you can send donations via text message to a number of other relief organizations. T-Mobile does not charge for text messages sent to mobile giving campaigns.
Also, Sprint representative Crystal Davis confirmed to Phone Scoop via e-mail that it, too, will waive the fees of its customers looking to call or text message phone lines in Japan effective March 11 to April 10.
If you are trying to find more information about what is going on in the Pacific region right now or how help out with relief efforts, you can take a look at some of our prior coverage of this topic: