Following the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines over the weekend, Vodafone has announced it will credit its New Zealand customers’ calls and TXTs to the Philippines during that period.
This includes mobile, residential and business calls made to Philippine landline and mobile phones. The retrospective credit will apply to calls and TXTs made from Friday 8 November (0:00:01) to Tuesday 12 November (23:59:59) and will be applied to customers’ accounts in their next bill.
At least 10,000 people are believed to have died from the typhoon that hit central Philippines.
Matt Williams, Vodafone consumer director, says it is vitally important for people to be able to communicate with family and friends in a time of crisis.
“Our thoughts are with the people of the Philippines affected by this terrible crisis – and, in particular, those who have lost loved ones.
"Many thousands of people have been impacted, losing their homes and everything they own. We know that many of our customers are in the Philippines right now, or have friends and family there. “We hope that these measures will help them to keep in touch during this difficult time. All we ask is that people limit their time on calls so that everyone who wants to make a call can get through – and to help avoid the risk of overloading,” says Vodafone in a press statement.
Vodafone says it has sent two New Zealand engineers to Manila over the weekend. Adrian Bullock and Rob MacLennan will be setting up an emergency mobile phone network that will provide a lifeline for aid workers and families dispersed by one of the most powerful storms on record.
They are there as part of the Vodafone Instant Network programme, managed by the Vodafone Foundation – Vodafone Group's charitable arm.
The programme last year and is now supporting emergency response teams around the world. Designed to fit into four suitcases, the equipment is light enough to travel on commercial flights or in the back of a jeep.
During the past 12 months, the programme has provided support in South Sudan, Congo and the Philippines.
Consisting of an antenna, a laptop and a base transceiver station (a box that houses the electronics that create the signal), the equipment is powered by petrol generators and can be raised up using scaffolding or whatever materials come to hand.