Sen. Boxer asks wireless firms to speed up mobile donations to Japan

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) urged wireless firms on Friday to speed up the delivery of mobile donations collected to help survivors of the earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan.

Mobile donations, which have grown increasingly popular in recent years, allow customers to register donations using their cell phones and have that amount added to their next bill. Wireless firms generally wait until the bill has been paid before transmitting the donation, causing delays of 30 to 90 days.

"In past global humanitarian crises, American mobile phone companies have remitted donations immediately to nonprofit organizations," Boxer said.

"In light of the scale of destruction in Japan, American wireless carriers should again immediately remit mobile donations to organizations conducting relief efforts on the ground."

Boxer's letter to the heads of Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless and AT&T comes in response to an online petition posted at Change.org by University of California Hastings College of Law student Masaya Uchino.

Uchino created the petition to draw attention to the delays. Boxer said many donors are under the mistaken impression that mobile donations are rushed to help affected areas, while the reality is that it can take months for the money to reach relief organizations.

"Guaranteeing a speedy transmission of funds will not only match customers’ expectation that their donations are having an immediate impact but will also ensure that donations are rushed to those most in need," Boxer said.