Firms Donate Funds, Technology to Relief Efforts

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PITTSFIELD, Mass., Sept. 9 -- Telecommunications companies are continuing to participate in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in the form of financial contributions, volunteerism and donations of technology and services. Participating companies include the following (See also Communications Companies Rally to Help Hurricane Katrina Victims, and "Ocean Optics Offers Office, Lab Space to Firms, Students in Katrina Zone"):

The parent company of T-Mobile USA Inc., Deutsche Telekom (Bonn, Germany, and Bellevue, Wash.), said it plans to donate approximately $2 million to support the educational needs of children affected by the disaster and is matching employee donations to the relief efforts.

EasyTel.Net and Global Crossing donated 10,000 toll-free phone numbers with phone, fax and e-mail messaging for Katrina survivors. The program also includes a disaster contact directory to help family and friends locate loved ones who have registered. The free program will be availalbe through Dec. 31. It will be launched at the Houston and Austin, Texas, convention centers.

Verizon has raised over $5 million for Hurricane Katrina survivors and is providing them with mobile pay-phone trailers, cell phones, phone banks and free prepaid calling cards. The Verizon Foundation is providing a 2-to-1 match for every dollar donated by employees to the American Red Cross to aid relief efforts in areas affected by the hurricane.

SBC Communications, based in San Antonio, Texas, announced yesterday that donations from employees and matching donations from the SBC Foundation to help Hurricane Katrina victims had climbed to more than $1.2 million. SBC said it will also provide more than $4 million a month in services to help evacuees connect with family members and to seek jobs and housing. The company is making available to hurricane victims, at shelters in Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Connecticut, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and Nevada, free local and long distance calling, personal voice mailboxes, DSL service and computers for high-speed Internet access. More than 1000 SBC Communications employees and retirees have donated their time at the shelters. SBC said it has sent equipment such as generators and microwave trailers to the areas hit by the hurricane and said it it is ready to assist communications recovery efforts as needed.
[Update: SBC Communications announced on Sept. 13 that employee donations for the Hurricane Katrina disaster relief efforts exceeded initial projections, prompting the SBC Foundation to double the cap for its employee matching gift fund to $2 million -- for a total potential company and employee contribution of up to $4 million. Employee contributions have surpassed the original giving estimate with more than $1 million in employee contributions and $1 million in matching dollars from the SBC Foundation pledged to the American Red Cross.]

Atlanta-based Cox Communications announced today it will not bill its New Orleans customers for services in September, and that it will determine and announce customer account procedures for October and in the coming weeks.

"As residents and businesses recover from this tragedy and deal with countless details of getting their lives back on track, we want to reassure them they don't have to worry about calling us to manage billing for their cable TV, phone and Internet services right now," said Greg Bicket, region vice president and general manager of Cox's operations in the New Orleans area. "We are working quickly to restore residential and commercial services to customers who are trying to return to normalcy in their lives, but we will not charge customers for services not delivered."

Residential and commercial accounts will remain active so services can be restored quickly when they return to the area, the company said.

Fonix Telecom, based in Atlanta, said it has distributed more than 250 to relief shelters in affected areas and has teamed up with Cobb EMC and Lockheed Georgia Employees' Federal Credit Union (LGEFCU) to donate 500 hours of calling card services. Through its sister company LecStar Telecom, Fonix donated 1000 prepaid calling cards to LGEFCU disaster relief efforts.

Fonix has also offered to support other VoIP providers in the affected areas where generators have run out of gas, and Atlanta-based Fonix employees have been reaching out to local relief shelters with relief boxes containing water, food, clothing and other much-needed items, in addition to donating blood.

Rockville, Md.-based Spirent Communications announced it will match employee donations to relief organizations by donating an equal amount to the American Red Cross, up to a total of at least $20,000, in support of the organization's relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina. Spirent is also offering equipment and personnel to help customers restore their networks.

The American Electronics Association (AeA) Midwest Council announced it will accept and circulate resumes and job requests from the Katrina-affected regions. Potential job candidates are encouraged to fax, email or mail their qualifications for consideration by its 130 countrywide member organizations. AeA represents nearly 2500 high-tech companies. "We are all eager to help those affected by Katrina and encourage members from the Midwest tech community to offer assistance to individuals in need of employment and additional resources," said Ed Longanecker, executive director of AeA's Midwest Council. Job seekers willing to relocate may fax resumes to (630) 613-7175; e-mail: [email protected]

Published: September 2005
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