The two biggest wireless carriers in the U.S. are offering free calls to Japan for a limited time period. AT&T uses business-speak and calls it “billing relief”. Verizon, thanksfully, writes in simple english and calls it “free calls”.
AT&T Wireless is providing free calls for up to 60 minutes between the dates of March 11 (the day of the Tsunami) and March 31. AT&T wireline customers need to call AT&T to get the 60 minutes of adjust billing (“billing relief”). Text messages can also be sent for free up to March 31.
Verizon is providing a much longer free calling period to Japan. Their free calling period also started on March 11 (like AT&T) but is free until April 10 (10 additional days). This is true for both wireless and wireline calls. There does not appear to be a need to contact Verizon for these free calls (unlike AT&T). Text messages are not mentioned in the press release body. Howver, the releases subtitle states: Verizon Wireless Customers Can Text to Japan for Free.
Note to AT&T: You are dealing with customers trying to make contact with collegues, friends and loved ones during on ongoing disaster of epic proportions. They really don’t need to worry about calling you to get “billing relief”. Please take a look at how Verizon is handling the situation and emulate them.