AT&T and Verizon offer free wireless calls and texting, temporarily, from U.S. to Japan

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AT&T said on Monday that wireless calls and text messages sent from the U.S. to Japan will be free for the rest of March, in light of the crisis that has resulted from Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

Calls and texts as far back as Friday, March 11, will also be included in the offer, AT&T said, noting that wireless prepaid customers won’t be eligible for the deal.


International long-distance calls from Puerto Rico to Japan will also be included in the free calling offer, the company said.

Residential landline customers are also eligible for up to 60 minutes of direct-dial calling to Japan, effective from March 11 through March 31, AT&T said.

Landline users, after they’ve received their bills, will need to call AT&T to ‘receive adjusted calling for up to 60 minutes,’ the company said. ‘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.’

Customers will either see no charges reflected on their monthly statement for their calls to Japan, or they will see a credit applied to their bill for calls and texts to Japan made between March 11 and March 31, AT&T said.

Also, AT&T customers can text ‘redcross’ to 90999 to make a $10 donation to the Red Cross’ disaster relief efforts, free of any text-message fees.

The normal monthly subscription fee for the TV Japan channel available on AT&T’s U-verse service has also been lifted until March 17.


[Updated 2:23 p.m.: Verizon is offering free wireless calls and texting from the U.S. to Japan through April 10 for it’s non-pre-paid customers.

‘All Verizon post-paid customers will receive free calling to Japan from March 11 through April 10,’ the company said in a statement. ‘Post-paid customers are those who receive a monthly bill from the company. In addition, Verizon Wireless post-paid customers in the U.S. will receive free text and multimedia messaging to Japan for the same time period.’

Calls made from a Verizon home landline to Japan will be rated at $0.00 per minute, from March 11 through April 10, the company said.

Verizon is also waiving all pre-paid phone card charges for long-distance calls to Japan from the U.S. during the same period.

And, its FiOS TV customers who are not subscribed TV Japan will get free access to the channel through March 17, Verizon said.

Only long-distance usage charges are being waved for home landlines. All other fees including taxes, surcharges, monthly recurring charges, minimum spend levels, monthly minimum charges, and other fees are not being waved, the company said.


Verizon, too, is waiving text message fees for texts sent to one of 10 organizations raising money to assist in disaster relief programs going on in Japan.

Customers can make a $10 donation by texting a specific word to different codes for each respective organization. The 10 groups are

  • 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]


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles