A devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake has rattled Ecuador over the weekend, killing 272 people and leaving 2,500 injured.
As a way to help customers find and connect with their loved ones in Ecuador, major U.S. carriers AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint are making all international calls and text messages to the country from the United States, including Puerto Rico, free.
T-Mobile announced that Simple Choice prepaid and postpaid customers can make free calls and send free text messages to Ecuador starting today through April 24. Additionally, T-Mobile is waving the fees for affiliated Mobile Virtual Network Operators such as GoSmart Mobile, and Walmart Family Mobile Customers. The network's subsidiary, MetroPCS, is offering free calls and messaging as well.
Sprint also said it is waving roaming charges and fees for Virgin Mobile USA, Sprint Prepaid, and Boost Mobile customers calling and messaging to Ecuador from the U.S. and voice and text while roaming in Ecuador, until April 23. This will allow customers and subscribers who were traveling in Ecuador when the earthquake hit to call and connect with their loved ones at home.
"During this difficult time we want to show our support for all Sprint, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile customers who may have friends and family in the region by allowing them to connect without worrying about fees," says Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.
AT&T is also offering free calls and text messaging through April 22 for customers calling landlines and mobile phones in Ecuador from the U.S. The carrier also suggests that customers should try and reach loved ones through messaging, as international phone networks can become congested during natural disasters.
In the wake of terrorist attacks or natural calamities, it has become customary among major carriers, as well as data-only services such as Skype and Google Hangouts, to offer free call and messaging services to customers.
Following the terrorist attacks in Brussels and Paris, U.S. major carriers have recently joined the long list of companies and organizations that aim to connect families and friends especially during these tragic times.
Aside from telecom carriers and network providers, popular social media sites such as Facebook has recently launched a "Safety Check" feature that allows users to mark themselves as "safe" when tragedy strikes. Twitter is also a powerful platform used by users to retweet emergency numbers and safe locations during disasters or attacks.