U.S. wireless carriers including AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T), Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ), and Sprint Corporation (NYSE:S) are offering free calls and text messages to Belgium after the terrorist attacks in the airport and metro station in Brussels on Tuesday.
The three U.S. wireless carriers offered sympathy to the people of Belgium and to its customers who have friends and family there.
Free calls and text messages to Belgium starts today
AT&T said it would waive or credit charges incurred by its customers for calls placed from the United States to Belgium starting today, March 22 until March 28 in the local time zone. The company said the credit applies to landline and mobile calls as well as text messages.
“As with any emergency, text messaging is recommended due to the possibility of network congestion in the local area,” said AT&T.
On the other hand, Verizon said it will not charge its U.S. wirelines and wireless customers who will place calls and text messages to Belgium on March 22 and 23. The company also decided not to charge customers’ calls to Turkey on March 19 and 20. Verizon said applicable taxes and surcharges would apply.
Meanwhile, Sprint waived international calls and text usage from the United States to Belgium for Sprint, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile USA, and Sprint Prepaid customers from March 22 to March 31.
“This is an extremely difficult time for many of our customers who have friends and family in Belgium and need to keep in touch. We want to do what we can do to show our support and comfort to Sprint customers, said Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure.
A cowardly attack
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks that killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds of others. A representative from the Belgian government said 20 people lost their lives, and 130 were wounded at the Maelbeek metro station plus more than 10 were killed and 100 were injured at the Zaventem airport (based on an updated report from CNN as of 2:27 in the afternoon Eastern Time).
A senior U.S. official commented that the Islamic State attacked Brussels to “make an international statement.” The headquarters of NATO is located in Brussels.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “My thoughts are with those who have lost their loved ones, with all those affected, and with the people of Belgium. We all stand together with our Ally Belgium on this dark day.”
“This is a cowardly attack—an attack on our values and on our open societies. Terrorism will not defeat democracy and take away our freedoms. We have decided to increase the alert state at NATO headquarters. We remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation very closely,” said Stoltenberg.
The attacks in Brussels came less than a week after Belgian authorities arrested Salah Abdeslam, the main suspect in the Paris attacks in November, together with two other suspects during a police raid. A Belgian police sniper also killed an Algerian Islamic State operative identified as Mohamed Belkiad in an operation last Tuesday.