Monday, October 7, 2013

Family or friends in Japan? Call them for free!

Originally Published: March 15, 2011
Japan has always held a special place in my heart. Ever since I was young, I was fascinated by the country and I had always wanted to travel there. When I started my freshman year of college at Penn State, I made one of the best friends,  who was from Tokyo, and is still one of my best friends. He invited me to his house a couple years ago where I was able to stay and tour for about a month. We still talk every couple days, thanks to the great advances in technology and social networking.
While my friend and I use Google Talk on our Android phones and computers to either chat with text or to video chat, many people may be a little more old fashioned when it comes to communicating. Besides communication through the internet through programs like Skype, I know that many people call their loved ones on the telephone and that it can be rather expensive. In light of the recent tragedy with the earthquake and tsunami in Japan,  some carriers and network providers are offering free calls to Japan.
Comcast is offering its Xfinity Voice and Business Class Voice customers free calls to Japan from March 11 through April 10.
Time Warner Cable released a statement saying calls through their digital home phone service will be free to Japan through April 15.
Sprint Nextel Corp has waived fees for calls and text messages to Japan.
AT&T is offering free wireless calls and text messages sent from the U.S. to Japan through March 31.
Verizon is offering free wireless calls and texts from the U.S. to Japan through April 10 for non pre-paid customers, as well as allowing landline customers to make free calls to Japan during the same period.
One last option to call Japanese telephones for free is Fring, a peer-to-peer Mobile voice over IP (VoIP) based internet telephony network, with apps for multiple operating systems including iOS and Android. They said they have made fringOut calls to Japan free. You can call any phone in Japan from anywhere on earth for free using FringOut. If you have a Fring account with FringOut credit, your calls to Japan, including both landline and  mobile, not premium numbers, will be free. Using chatting, calling and video calling has always free between Fring users though, meaning calling from a Fring account to another Fring account, not to a landline or cell phone. Fring hopes to keep fringOut calls to Japan free until things return to a normal state.
Having friends and their families over in Japan, I know how important it is to keep in contact with them, especially when a disaster has stuck of this magnitude. I hope this information will be useful to anyone with family living and working in Japan.
On a side note, while I was visiting Japan back in 2007, I loved it so much that last year before I graduated from college I was planning to teach English in Japan and later was planning to do a one year internship for this technology website called Akihabara News. Both of these jobs fell through, one due to it being extremely competitive to get into the English teaching program that I applied to and the second due to visa issues, but I can’t help thinking, what if I had actually been working in Japan when this disaster struck. I know my mom would be a wreck since she is already that way when there is bad weather.
One last thing I wanted to mention is to please try to help the people in Japan if you can through donations, etc., but go about it the right way and donate to a notable charity. I know Japan is a powerful nation and will be back to normal again, but I think they could use all the aid they can get now. Thanks!

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