A handful of cable operators have made moves over the past few days to allow customers with friends and family impacted by the Ukraine conflict to contact loved ones in that war-torn country by landline and mobile phone free of charge.
Charter Communications, the second largest cable operator in the country with customers in 41 states, said Wednesday that it is waiving charges for all calls to Ukraine for Spectrum Voice and Spectrum Mobile subscribers through the end of March. According to Charter, standard SMS text messages to Ukraine already are included at no extra charge with Spectrum Mobile service. Charter said that customers don’t need to do anything; the fees will be automatically waived from their monthly bill.
Astound Broadband, the sixth largest cable operator in the country, said Wednesday that it is waiving customer fees associated with calling Ukraine from the United States. The company said international calling charges for Astound Broadband phone customers will be waived when calling Ukraine through March 31.
Comcast said last month it will offer free calls to Ukraine for its Xfinity Voice, Xfinity Mobile, Comcast Business Voice and Comcast Business Mobile customers from February 20 to March 10. SMS text messages are always included at no charge to domestic or international family members and friends, the company said.
Altice USA said its Optimum Mobile and Optimum and Suddenlink residential and business phone customers will be able to place calls from the United States to Ukraine at no additional cost through the end of March. Optimum Mobile customers will also be able to send free SMS and MMS messages to Ukraine.
Cable One said it began offering Sparklight residential phone customers free calls to Ukraine on February 25, adding that the offering lasts until March 12.
“During this time of unrest, we want to ensure our customers stay connected with what matters most - their loved ones in Ukraine,” Cable One CEO Julie Laulis said in a statement. Customers must visit www.sparklight.com/Ukraine and submit account information in order to have calls to Ukraine credited
Vyve Broadband, which offers service to customers in16 states, is broadening the scope of free long-distance calling to the countries of Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Ukraine for the month of March. Additionally, Vyve has set up phones in each of its 38 local offices across the U.S. that both customers and non-customers can use to make free calls to these countries.
“At Vyve, we recognize that the war in Ukraine is a global concern that is impacting real human beings both abroad and at home,” Vyve president and chief operating officer Andy Parrott said in a press release. “By waiving charges for long-distance calls to the area, we want to support our customers as they seek to keep in touch with their friends, family members, and loved ones affected by this crisis.”
Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine on February 24, an attack that so far has caused nearly 1 million refugees to flee the country. According to the European Union, as many as 4 million people could be displaced and may are seeing shelter in neighboring countries like Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Moldova. Several countries, including the U.S., have denounced the invasion and initiated economic sanctions against Russia to stop the attacks.
Mike Farrell is senior content producer, finance for Multichannel News/B+C, covering finance, operations and M&A at cable operators and networks across the industry. He joined Multichannel News in September 1998 and has written about major deals and top players in the business ever since. He also writes the On The Money blog, offering deeper dives into a wide variety of topics including, retransmission consent, regional sports networks,and streaming video. In 2015 he won the Jesse H. Neal Award for Best Profile, an in-depth look at the Syfy Network’s Sharknado franchise and its impact on the industry.
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