TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Cingular, Sprint, Others Give Katrina Victims Phone Bill Help

Cingular, Sprint, Others Give Katrina Victims Phone Bill Help

Reuters News Wire (
Sat, 10 Sep 2005 16:00:12 -0500

Cingular Wireless, the No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier, has said it would
give customers in the areas devastated by Hurricane Katrina discounts
on their cell phone bills, including roaming charges and text

Customers in the New Orleans and Biloxi, Mississippi, markets will
receive a one-time 50 percent credit on their monthly fee and will not
be charged for roaming, extra minutes, long-distance or text messaging
from late August through September 30, according to a September 8
letter made available on Friday.

Cingular's subscribers in the markets of Mobile, Alabama, Jackson,
Mississippi, Baton Rouge and Lafayette, Louisiana, will get a one-time
25 percent discount on their monthly charge as well as unspecified
discounts on roaming and text messages.

The company, a joint venture of BellSouth Corp. and SBC Communications
Inc., said the expiration date for prepaid customers will be extended
to October 31 and will replace any that expired since August 29.

The Federal Communications Commission had expressed concerns that
customers displaced by the hurricane would have their cell phones shut
off because they had not paid their bills since they had been

The agency sought details on what carriers were doing.

Cingular told the FCC the carrier would not shut off customers in the
affected areas for 30 days and would stop collection efforts in
Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

The company declined to say what impact, if any, the policies would
have on its revenue.

Verizon Wireless, the No. 2 carrier, said it was working on a
case-by-case basis with customers, would not cut them off and had
stopped bill collections. The company is a joint venture of Verizon
Communications and Vodafone Group Plc.

Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 wireless carrier, said it would give a month
of free wireless service to subscribers in the hardest hit areas and
would also give free long-distance, extra minutes, roaming and text

Sprint also said in its own letter to the FCC that it would not cut
off customers and has stopped trying to collect on unpaid bills. It
did not reveal how long it would do so.

Copyright 2005 Reuters Limited.

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