Google, Viber and others help the Nepal cause

After the devastating 25 April Nepal earthquake, searching for missing people has become the biggest and most challenging task people are facing.

Now, big American phone and Internet companies are lending a hand by offering free phone calls to and from Nepal.

"To aid those in the country or travelling to Nepal, T-Mobile has also added Nepal to its list of Simple Global countries this morning. Now, T-Mobile Simple Choice customers with Simple Global will get data roaming fees in Nepal waived through 16 May, and any data usage since Saturday, 25 April will be credited,“ says T-Mobile on its website.

Viber has also joined in on the effort, offering free phone call using the Viber Out service.

https://twitter.com/ViberHelp/status/592318632824176642

https://twitter.com/ViberHelp/status/592330676138999808

On Monday, Google Voice said it would offer 1 cent per minute calls to Nepal. The calls usually cost 19 cents, and the company said it didn't want to go completely free, because they want to deter potential abusers.

"To help people communicate with friends and loved ones in Nepal, we’re reducing the cost of calls through Google Voice into the country for the next week from 19 cents to 1 cent (that’s 0.01 USD, with similar cost in other supported currencies) per minute,“ Google said.

"We chose 1 cent, instead of making calls free, to prevent spammers from abusing our systems and possibly adding more load to the already stretched Nepalese telephone network.“

But even with all these services, getting someone on the line in Nepal might be an impossible task. Shaheen Chughtai, Oxfam's deputy head of humanitarian policy and campaigns, said in The Guardian on Monday that phone lines and digital services in the country remained weak or destroyed.