Free Calls To Japan In Tsunami Aftermath

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Tech companies are doing their bit to help people affected by the disaster in Japan.

AT&T today announced free international long distance calls from the US or Puerto Rico to Japan, from now until the end of the month. This offer is for wireless postpaid customers. All wireless numbers also get free text messages to Japan too.

If your AT&T phone is attached with a wire, you’ve not been forgotten. You can claim back the cost of up to 60 minutes of call time between now and March 31st. Make your calls and keep a record of them; all you need to do is contact AT&T and the credit will be applied to your next bill.

Meanwhile, Skype’s Japan office announced two ideas to help local people out. Its Skype Access wifi service is free until further notice. In addition, the company is handing out Skype call credits worth 80 yen – about enough for a 30 minute call – to some customers. With communication networks so badly damaged by the tsunami (lines down, cell phone towers destroyed, cable connections severed), every little bit of extra help can make a difference to the people there trying to stay in touch with the outside world (and for loved ones trying to make sure they’re OK).

Here at home, cell networks are still operating a variety of short code numbers so you can donate money from your phone. Here’s a full list. As the world slowly begins to understand the full extent of the devastation to north-eastern Japan, every dollar counts.