Operators including Orange, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone Group agreed to reduce wholesale roaming charges with Ukrainian carriers for three months to help an estimated 4.2 million refugees keep in contact with the nation.
The companies are among a total of 27 which committed to deliver connectivity to people escaping a war in Ukraine, in a movement led by the European Commission (EC) and European Parliament.
Ukrainian operators Kyivstar, Vodafone Ukraine and lifecell are among the operators involved. In a joint statement, the EC explained many refugees have fled to neighbouring countries including Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.
Bouygues Telecom, Liberty Global, Telefonica, Telenor, Telia and Telecom Italia are also on board, along with virtual network association MVNO Europe.
A large number of the operators had previously provided free calling to Ukraine.
The European Union (EU) regulates wholesale data roaming charges.
Operators also agreed to reduce termination rates for calls from Ukrainian numbers to the same level as those originating from EU member states.
EC EVP Margrethe Vestager urged other operators across Europe to join the initiative.
In a related statement, GSMA director general Mats Granryd noted its members “will continue to offer humanitarian programmes recognising the importance of connectivity particularly in times of crisis”.
“Our hope is that these measures will go some way to lighten the burden faced by the millions of people displaced and seeking refuge. With these measures in place, we hope mobile will continue to play its vital role in keeping family and friends connected.”