Major telecom firms are waiving calls to and from Ukraine to keep communication lines open during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
European countries have responded to the invasion with economic sanctions, causing the Russian stock market to suffer and the value of the Russian rouble to plummet. Closer to home, carriers, too, are making their sentiments known.
A number of major telecommunication companies are removing charges for customers who need to stay in contact with friends and family in Ukraine, and some are also making efforts on the ground -- such as Orange, which is handing out prepaid SIM kits at border crossings.
Verizon: Verizon has waived charges for consumer and business subscribers to and from Ukraine until March 10. Voice services and text roaming charges have also been wiped, and customers with international coverage bolt-ons will not lose any minutes from their plan.
"During these challenging times, customers need to stay connected with loved ones in Ukraine," commented Manon Brouillette, Verizon Consumer Group CEO. "Waiving long-distance charges for customers calling Ukraine will help them focus on what matters: communicating with family and loved ones."
Virgin Media O2: Virgin Media O2 has removed charges for calls to and from Ukraine, text, and data until March 6 – although this date will be kept "under review" as the conflict unfolds. Charges will be credited back to customers automatically.
"We are deeply troubled by the events taking place in Ukraine and know that some of our customers or their loved ones and friends may be directly affected," the company says.
EE: Calls, texts, and data to and from the region are now free. However, the company cautions customers that "signal in the area might be affected by damage to local networks and equipment."
Vodafone: Until March 2 -- at present -- Vodafone is offering free roaming for customers in Ukraine, as well as free calls and texts to and from the region. The carrier's European operations, including in Romania, the Czech Republic, and Hungary, have also taken action.
Vodafone is donating €500,000 to NGOs in Europe to assist with the refugee crisis.
"These are distressing times in Europe," the company said. "While Vodafone doesn't have any employees in Ukraine, our thoughts are with all of those affected by the war. For our customers, we want to help the way we know how."
T-Mobile: Until March 3, T-Mobile is waiving international long-distance and international roaming charges for calls and texts made to and from the US and Ukraine for T-Mobile and Sprint postpaid and prepaid customers (consumer and business). In addition, the same waivers have now been applied to calls made to and from the US to Belarus, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia until March 2.
BT: BT has made mobile, landline calls, and texts to and from Ukraine free. Users in the country also have free data.
Three: The telco has removed roaming charges in Ukraine and says that any charges, from now, associated with calls and texts from the UK to Ukraine will be credited back to account holders.
Orange: Orange has also launched a number of initiatives across Europe:
- France: From February 25, for a period of two weeks, calls, text, and MMS messages from Orange and Sosh handsets to Ukraine mobiles and landlines are free.
- Slovakia: Calls to and from Slovakia to Ukraine, as well as text and MMS messages, are free until March 11.
- Belgium: Orange postpaid subscribers (consumer and business) can make free calls to Ukrainian landlines and mobiles.
- Spain: Orange and Jazztel customers can make free international calls and texts to Ukraine. Prepaid customers will receive discounts.
- Poland: Calls made from Poland to Ukraine are now heavily discounted at 0.29 Polish Zloty (PLN) per minute.
- Moldova: Subscribers have 30 minutes of free calls to Ukraine each day. Tariffs have been reduced by 85% and are currently charged at 1 lei per minute.
- Romania: Free calls and texts to Ukraine. Customers in Ukraine now have free calls, texts, and data.
Orange is also distributing prepaid SIM kits to refugees crossing the land borders of Moldova, Romania, and Slovakia.
Deutsche Telekom/Telekom Deutschland, Congstar: The carrier is retroactively applying free calls and texts to Ukrainian landlines and mobiles. Customers in the country will not incur roaming charges.
AT&T: Until March 7, AT&T is suspending charges for international calls made from the United States to Ukraine. The carrier says that customers may still receive alerts, but the waived charges will be shown on future statements.
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