Vodafone providing free calls, texts to cyclone-hit Tonga, launches text donations

Telco Vodafone is providing free calls and texts to cyclone-ravaged Tonga for 48 hours and enabling text donations to a Red Cross Pacific Disaster Fund.

Vodafone Consumer Director Matt Williams says with Cyclone Gita being labelled the worst storm to hit Tonga in 60 years, it's important for the company to open up the lines.

He says with reports of widespread devastation, Vodafone doesn't want people with family and friends in Tonga worrying about how they have fared, so is making it as easy as possible for them to get in touch. 

From 5pm this evening, all calls and texts to Tonga will be free for 48 hours for all Vodafone customers. 

That includes all Vodafone mobile plans such as prepay, as well as business customers and home phones.

Call and text credits will be automatically applied to customers' accounts on the next plan cycle, Mr Williams said.

"We'd recommend texting for the time being, as this is a lighter load for networks to manage," he said.

Meanwhile, the Vodafone Foundation has moved to set up a Red Cross Pacific Disaster Fund text to donate campaign, to get aid to the region as quickly as possible.

Cyclone Gita hit Tonga overnight leaving widespread destruction including flooding and power outages. Source: 1 NEWS

Texting RED CROSS to 4644 will enable an automatic $3 donation to the Red Cross Pacific Disaster Fund, regardless of which mobile provider you are with. 

The Vodafone Foundation says its text to donate campaign will see 100 per cent of all money donated go directly to the disaster response. 

Follow 1 NEWS NOW's live updates of Cyclone Gita.

Kathryn Dalziel says you should only use your cellphone in a meeting when conducting business.
Source: Breakfast