Update: AT&T and Verizon won't charge for Philippines disaster calls and texts

Carriers line up text-to-donate plans for Typhoon Haiyan relief

AT&T and Verizon Wireless said Tuesday they won't charge wireless customers for calls and texts from the U.S. to the Philippines over the next few weeks to help with relief efforts in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan.

Verizon also said it is giving $100,000 to the American Red Cross Philippines Typhoon Appeal Fund, while AT&T is giving $25,000 to AmeriCares for relief and Sprint is giving $25,000 to the American Red Cross. Those efforts come amid reports of food and water shortages after the typhoon swept through the island nation last week. Nearly 2,000 people have been confirmed dead; that number is expected to rise further.

Verizon said it is going to waive charges for wireless calls, texts and multimedia messages to and from the Philippines from Nov. 8 to Dec. 7 and for all wired long-distance calls to the Philippines during that period. The waiver applies to conventional "post-pay" customers that make up the majority of the subscribers.

Earlier Tuesday, AT&T said that customers on its post-paid plans will not be charged for calls or texts from Nov. 8 to Nov. 30. AT&T's wired customers, including those on its U-verse service, will not be charged for up to 60 minutes of direct-dial calling to the Philippines for the same dates. They will either see no charge for the calls on their monthly statements or receive a credit in a later statement.

AT&T wireless customers can text to give a $10 donation to four different groups by texting the word "AID" to the following: 50555 to donate to Operation USA; 80077 to give to HOPE Worldwide; 27722 to give to World Food Program USA; and 80108 to give to mGive Foundation Philippines Typhoon Relief Fund (a U.S. State Department campaign).

Verizon also said it has activated a text-to-donate program for its U.S. customers to donate $10 to three groups. To donate to World Vision, text: HOPE to 777444; to donate to UNICEF, text: RELIEF to 864233; and to donate to Catholic Relief Services, text: RELIEF to 25383.

Other relief text-to-donate recipients are listed at Verizon's blog.

Other U.S. carriers were also planning responses to the disaster, though details have not yet been released.

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at  @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

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