Communication with disaster-stricken Japan now free across the board

Since Friday's devastating earthquake, coastal Japan has been battered by tsunamis and aftershocks which have caused billions of dollars in damage to the country's infrastructure, and have triggered a series of explosions at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The International Atomic Energy Agency today said it is launching a series of missions to assist the Japanese government in monitoring the radiation from Fukushima Daiichi and the potential danger that could spread from the explosions that took place there.

In response to the continuing disaster Tuesday, nearly every telecommunications company with a significant American footprint has waived some or all of the fees that would normally apply to calls or texts to Japan.

T-Mobile USA- No international long distance charges on phone calls to Japan, free Wi-Fi calls to and from Japan, and free SMS text messaging to and from Japan for T-Mobile postpaid customers through March 31, 2011 and retroactive to March 11, 2011. Subscribers can text "REDCROSS" to 90999, and donate $10 to the Red Cross. This donation will be charged to subscribers' T-Mobile phone bill.

Sprint says it is waiving and/or crediting fees for wireless calls and text messages to and from Japan for customers who are on Sprint's networks, retroactive from March 11 and continuing to April 10, 2011.

Sprint also lets subscribers freely "text to donate" to the following numbers:

Text "REDCROSS" to "90999" to donate $10 on behalf of the American Red Cross.

Text "TSUNAMI" to "50555" to donate $10 on behalf of Convoy of Hope, Inc.

Text "WAVE" to "50555" to donate $10 on behalf of the World Relief Corp. of National Association of Evangelicals.

Text "JAPAN" or "QUAKE" to "80888" to donate $10 on behalf of The Salvation Army.

Verizon announced that both Residential and Wireless customers will be able to make free long distance calls to Japan until April 10, and Verizon Wireless postpaid customers can send and receive text and multimedia messages to Japan for free. Carrier billing is also available for ten different "text to donate" systems:

ADRA Relief: text SUPPORT to 85944

American Red Cross Relief: text REDCROSS to 90999

Convoy of Hope: text TSUNAMI or SUNAMI to 50555

GlobalGiving: text JAPAN to 50555

International Medical Corps: text MED to 80888

Mercy Corps: text MERCY to 25383

Salvation Army: text JAPAN to 80888

Save the Children Federation, Inc.: text JAPAN or TSUNAMI to 20222

World Relief Corp. of National Association of Evangelicals: text WAVE to 50555

World Vision, Inc.: text 4JAPAN or 4TSUNAMI to 20222

AT&T - Through March 31, AT&T's wireless postpaid customers have one hour of free talk time with Japan, and text messaging is free. Red Cross "text to donate" is free as well. AT&T U-verse TV has included TV Japan in its lineup as channel number 3680, and it is free for all subscribers until March 25.

MetroPCS - Free calls and texts to any number in Japan for all subscribers. Roger D. Linquist, president, CEO and chairman of MetroPCS on Wednesday said, "Our hope is that by offering free calling and texting to our subscribers, we can help connect friends and families who haven't yet been able to reach each other following last week's tragic events and the continued turmoil."

Cricket - Sprint MVNO Cricket offers voice-plan customers unlimited free calls to Japan until March 29, and supports the same free "text to donate" numbers as its parent network Sprint.

Comcast - Xfinity Voice and Business Class Voice customers will be able to call Japan freely from today through April 10, 2011. Comcast will also remove any charges for calls placed to Japan dated back to March 11.

Time Warner - On Friday, Time Warner announced that all calls to Japan via Time Warner Cable Digital Phone and Time Warner Cable Business Class Phone would be free until April 15.

Cox Communications - Both Cox Digital Telephone and Cox Wireless subscribers will be able to call and text freely to Japan until March 31. Additionally, Cox has made TV Japan available for free to Cox Advanced TV customers in Orange County and San Diego, Calif., Las Vegas and Northern Virginia.

Bright House Networks - Monday, Bright House announced that all Home Phone and Business Phone customer calls to Japan would be free of charge through April 15, 2011, retroactive to calls placed beginning March 11, 2011.

North State - From March 10 to April 30, North State is offering free, unlimited long distance and wireless calling and text messaging to Japan for its residential customers. The Red Cross' "text to donate" plan is free for North State customers as well.

Alaska Communications - Effective March 11 through March 31, wireless postpaid and residential wireline customers with international calling plans will not be charged for international long distance calls up to 60 minutes or text messages from Alaska to Japan.

netTalk- VoIP operator netTalk today announced that calls to and from Japan using netTALK DUO or netTalk smartphone app will be free beginning Tuesday until March 21.

One by one, regional carriers are responding to the trend of bigger telecommunications companies, and we'll update as they arise.

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