If you have a friend or family member in one of the seven countries affected by the recently implemented immigration ban, Viber has a slight silver lining to offer you. Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of Viber’s parent company, Rakuten, has announced that the messaging service will allow for free calls between the United States and Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen. And it’s a two-way street. Not only will Americans not have to pay to dial out, but those in affected countries will not have to pay to communicate with folks in the U.S.
I am very sad to see what is happening now in the US. I came to US when I was seven and I really respect big American big heart.
— 三木谷浩史 H. Mikitani (@hmikitani) January 30, 2017
“Viber has always been committed to enabling people to connect freely and securely whenever and wherever they are,” said Viber CEO Michael Shmilov. “Under the current circumstances, we feel obligated to enable our users to remain close even when apart.”
Viber set up its free calling service in a speedy manner, making things available within 24 hours to affected parties. And just because the calls are free doesn’t mean they’ll be any different in quality.
Viber, which has been around since 2010, already claims more than 800 million users across the world. And while messaging services seem to be a dime a dozen these days, Viber is different in that it lets you make calls to normal telephone numbers, including both mobile and landlines. That makes it particularly useful for those in countries where Wi-Fi and mobile service provisions aren’t as ubiquitous as they are in the U.S.