March 17, 2011
For those who have friends and family in Japan, you can keep in touch as much as you want through at least three different telecommunication companies. United States residents can use their AT&T or Verizon service, and those in the U.S. and a number of other countries will be able to utilize ChatTime. AT&T has announced it is providing free text and call services for U.S. AT&T wireless customers with a post-paid account -- those who get a monthly bill -- from March 11 to March 31. • International long distance usage from the United States and Puerto Rico to Japan • Text messages to Japan, originated from a U.S. wireless number The company goes on to explain that AT&T residential landline customers can get credit for up to one hour of long distance to Japan until March 31, plus U-Verse customers can access the 24-hour news station TV Japan on channel 3680 for free through March 17.
“We want to help our customers connect with loved ones in Japan in anyway we can,” said Mark Collins, senior vice president, Voice and Data Products, AT&T Mobility and Consumer Markets. “Connecting with family and friends is most important at times like this— we want to make it as easy and worry free as possible for our customers.”The other top U.S. carrier, Verizon, is allowing very similar activities. The company is providing the same no charge exception for all outgoing calls and texts from their U.S. post-paid wireless customers to local Japan phone numbers, but also expands the offer to prepaid phone card users and residential lines. Those with a Verizon World Plan will not have those minutes subtracted from their allotment. Verizon is allowing this exception for a longer period than their competition, from March 11 to April 10. FiOS TV subscribers can access TV Japan on channel 1770 from now until March 25 at no cost. Those beyond United States borders can still keep in touch with loved ones in Japan at no cost during the month of March. The pre-paid VoIP service ChatTime is giving all of their subscribers free outbound calls to Japan. All you need is the ChatTime iPhone app, a free ChatTime account, and make sure to have the callback setting disabled. Even after March, ChatTime offers pays-as-you-go rates to Japan starting at around four cents per minute and unlimited plans starting at $9.99 per month. For donations, give an amount of $5 to $200 through iTunes, text REDCROSS to 90999 to gift $10, and help out by purchasing one of the many apps from developers who have pledged to donate all of their proceeds.