The volcanic eruption followed by the tsunami has left the islands of Tonga devastated and under a big pile of volcanic dust. Communications to and from the islands was cut off for several days but now they have been restored to some degree so it is important for many folks here in Australia to be able to connect with friends and loved ones in Tonga.

TPG Telecom are the first telco (and most likely won’t be the last but first counts most — they set the trend) to offer free mobile calls to Tonga for the next two weeks — and the free calls are across its entire family of brands. The suite of brands offering the free mobile calls includes Vodafone, Kogan and Lebara telcos and thus covers a lot of customers. The free calls start today, 21st January and will continue until the night of Thursday 3rd February.

Nomuka village in Mu’omu’a district, Ha’api division. Photograph: UNOSAT via The Guardian

TPG’s other brands, non-mobile brands such as TPG, iiNet, Westnet and Internode will also allow free standard calls to Tonga between the same dates. TPG Telecom advise us that a “small number of customers may still see charges related to Tonga calls during this period, in which case, TPG Telecom invites them to please contact their service provider for a full credit.”

“We are heartbroken to see the tragic events that have taken place in Tonga, and to see the ripple effect it has had on the people of Tonga, Tongan Australians and the worldwide Tongan community,” said Arthur Panos, General Manager Products and Devices. Our thoughts are with all those affected by this disaster, and we hope this small gesture to help our customers reconnect will provide some support and comfort.”

Although the communications network to Tonga has been restored it is not fully operational at this stage and customers may encounter “periods of instability during times of peak load.” Of course, as calls are free for the next two weeks they recommend just calling again until another successful connection is made.

Here at EFTM our thoughts go out to Tongans, and everyone affected by this disaster, and it is good to see companies such as TPG Telecom offering this free service to their customers to help them in this time of need.