Rakuten CEO Hiroshi Mikitani has announced that messaging service Viber (which Rakuten acquired in 2014 for $900 million) will offer free calls between the United States and the countries impacted by Trump’s travel ban through Viber Out.
When the service is implemented, Viber users will be place free calls to landlines and mobiles in the seven countries impacted by Trump’s executive order – Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Yemen. Similarly, users in those countries will be able to call numbers in the United States without having to pay.
Viber COO Michael Shmilov said “Viber has always been committed to enabling people to connect freely and securely whenever and wherever they are. Under the current circumstances, we feel obligated to enable our users to remain close even when apart.”
Viber says that the free calls will be available within the next 24 hours, as its technical team are currently setting up the service. It also promises calls will also be of the highest possible quality – just like any other Viber Out call.
Anyone looking for updates on when the service will be available can follow Viber on Twitter. We’ll also update this post when we know that it’s available. It’s available. See below.
Viber isn’t the only service that’s stepping in to address the needs of those impacted by Trump’s controversial executive order. On Saturday evening, Airbnb CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky said that it’d work to address the short-term housing needs of those affected by the order.
While Viber’s offering doesn’t address the needs of those stranded in places like Canada, Dubai, and Europe, it’s certainly a welcome gesture.
Update: A few minutes after this post came out, Viber officially launched the service.
We connect people – no matter where they’re from. Calls to any landline or mobile between 🇺🇸 and 🇱🇾 🇸🇩 🇸🇾 🇮🇶 🇮🇷 🇾🇪 🇸🇴are now free.
— Viber (@Viber) January 30, 2017