Telcos Deliver Tsunami Relief
From communications equipment to free calls to financial aid, telecom companies around the world are doing what they can to support tsunami-relief efforts in South Asia.
Working around the clock to restore services, operators in the devastated areas are setting up emergency call centers near hospitals, police stations, and temporary shelters.
Thailand’s CAT Telecom Public Co. Ltd. is offering free international calls and Internet access to tourists from help centers, as well as from Donmuang Airport in Bangkok. The carrier also plans to donate Bt 10 million ($256,430) to charities working in the country’s southern provinces hit by the tidal waves.
Bharti Tele-Ventures Ltd. has donated Rs 10 million ($228,990) to India’s national relief fund, and the company says its AirTel mobile division will invest Rs 200 million ($4.58 million) to provide mobile and VSAT telecom links by March 31, 2005 to the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which are among the worst hit by the tsunami.
There's at least one group effort: telx has established a Telecom Industry Tsunami Relief Fund to coordinate industry contributions of equipment and services via the non-profit Direct Relief International (see Telx Sets Up Tsunami Relief Fund).
Individual companies have also set up employee matching funds to support humanitarian aid. Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) is contributing $100,000 to charity, and Time Warner Inc. (NYSE: TWX) is giving $300,000 and will match up to $500,000 from employees, says CNN/Money.
Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) says it is donating over $2.5 million in company and employee donations, and is working with the NetHope consortium to provide NetRelief kits for emergency communications (see Cisco Sends Quake Relief). Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. has also sent telecom equipment, worth over $2 million, to Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and India to help repair their networks (see Huawei Aids 4 Tsunami-Hit Nations ).
Other companies that have announced assistance include Telstra Corp., Symbol Technologies Inc. (NYSE: SBL), Wireless Communications Association International (WCA), and Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). (See Telstra Aids South Asia, Symbol Contributes Tsunami Aid, WCA Organizes Asia Relief, and Vodafone Donates £1M Aid.)
In Europe, Sweden-based providers TeliaSonera AB (Nasdaq: TLSN), Tele2 AB (Nasdaq: TLTO), and Vodafone sent SMS messages to all of their customers on roaming networks in the affected region, urging them to contact their families or the Swedish embassy. On Tuesday, the carriers also began offering free fixed and mobile calls to mobile phones in South Asia.
TeliaSonera says it has extended its initial 48-hour free service offer to January 3. It has been working with the Swedish government to set up a call center, and the carrier has provided travel companies with satellite phones.
Swedish television will air special programs on the tragedy this weekend, and the company will provide free phone numbers for information and donations. “We’re trying to do things step-by-step to help with the relief effort,” says Hans Larsson, press manager for TeliaSonera Sweden. The operator will also donate SEK 500,000 ($75, 587) to the Red Cross, he adds.