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Keeping in Contact With Family, From Afghanistan? 176

Posted by timothy
from the and-don't-say-learn-pashto dept.
LiNKz writes "Within a short while I will be heading to Afghanistan and in the interest of keeping in communication with my wife and family I've been looking at different means of it, from VoIP to cellular services. I'm not sure how well connected or how stable of a connection the base I'm deploying to has, which means VoIP might simply not be an option. I have, however, noticed in my searches that Afghanistan has recently boomed with cellular coverage though that too seems to be difficult to ascertain. I'm curious if the Slashdot community has any information or experience regarding international cellular services offered in this country and the means of obtaining it."
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Keeping in Contact With Family, From Afghanistan?

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  • Not an issue anymore (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Internet access and calling centers are plentiful, at least on the US bases. This is really the *last* thing you need to be worried about.

    • by Crewdawg (1421231) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @10:00PM (#26768535)
      I would disagree slightly here. I am an IT Manager that has a dozen or so remote sites in Afghanistan and Iraq. I would not consider the internet and call centers plentiful. We are often forced to use VSAT to get any connection at all. When there is a military provided connection it is usually a SIPRNET or NIPRnet. Use of VoIP and personal communications on these networks is usually prohibited. We do have good luck with Skype and even Vonage when there is an internet connection, though it is often heavily delayed (think 800 - 1200ms delays).
      • by Firethorn (177587)

        Yeah, you can't just hook up a VOIP device to niprnet and expect it to work - the firewalls are far too restrictive. Not to mention that it violates regs.

        Morale phones are generally provided. A cell phone is a possibility, but remember foreign call charges.

        In my experience, about all you can count on is snail mail, email, and rationed phone access.

      • by LoRdTAW (99712)

        A friend of mine is currently serving in Iraq, he is a Marine. His friends all think My Space is a proper "email" service and he is forced to wait upward of ten minutes for a single page to load.

        For the author of the article, if you plan to do personal internet stuff go with what ever is indigenous like cell phones.

      • by Judinous (1093945)
        A bit of an off-topic reply, but your post made me think of my own situation:

        I am a system administrator that has a handful of remote sites in South Texas. I would not consider the internet and call centers plentiful. We are often forced to use satellite or cellular networks to get any connection at all. When there is a cable provided connection it is usually at sub-dialup speeds. Use of VoIP on these networks is usually filtered. We do have good luck with Skype and even Vonage when there is an internet c
        • I would really recommend you to move to somewhere else. Not too hot, not to cold, not too catastrophy, not too backwards. It can only get better. :)

    • There is a free online video contact service a friend of mine used. I can't remember the name at the moment( I will post it when I find it out so keep looking for it). All you need is a webcam and microphone for both parties -- worth the cost to keep visual and audio communication.
    • by tibman (623933) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @04:33AM (#26770723) Homepage

      I spent 6 months in a coalition log base that had zero internet, phones, pay, tv, or mail services. The only americans were my platoon, an ODA team, some rogue infantry major (a US liaison to another country), and a few commo guys. My platoon chipped in and bought a Satellite and a monthly plan from a local.. we had to pay in cash, however. Each plt member paid $100 the first month and $30 after that. We drove 2 hrs to the nearest FOB a few times a month. It had all the normal services so we could pickup mail for the logbase and get our monthly allowance from finance. I think the service plan we had gave us 12 unique IPs to play with. The service was good too(when there wasn't asshats leaving P2P stuff running all out). However, i recommend you stick to non-live communications as much as possible. Phonecalls make people cry and you just won't be as focused on the job with that kind of stuff to worry about (imo, of course. To each their own).

      It's a good idea that a senior NCO has control of the satellite so he can pull it down if he feels there is a good reason (sudden visit by a VIP, for example). The NCO can ensure everyone is running AV and NOT doing anything mission critical with the computer (watch Officers! anything official even memo's should be done on a non-network'd machine). Using a cheap (220v!) Router with assigned MACs is a good control mechanism. This is really only feasible with a small unit. You are responsible for lives and millions in equipment.. i feel there is no reason why you could not run a small network without oversight.

  • by nitroamos (261075) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @06:43PM (#26767379)

    It's a cross between instant messaging and asynchronous voip.

    http://voicebeep.com/sayit [voicebeep.com]

    • by metlin (258108)

      Yo, I'm sure he could talk to Jon Katz.

      I'm sure there are a few Commodore 64s lying around that he could use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2009 @06:44PM (#26767381)

    I'm currently deployed in Afghanistan at FOB Blessing and the broadband phones and internet that the MWR give us for free is actually really quite good considering where we're at. It's free and works perfectly, the only problem is the small amount of computers (8) and phones (3) available for this base with our numbers. Most of the other outposts have a MWR room with similar things in them, maybe less or more comps or phones..

    Not many people use the afghani cell phones or their blackberrys (apparently depending on the plan they work here albeit very expensive).

    hope this helps or reassures you!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bmgoau (801508)

      Can you bring/use laptops? Is there a wireless access point or is that considered to much of a security threat?

      • by MrFreezeBU (54843)
        I've had friends stationed at FOBs in Iraq over the last 4 years. They were able to bring their personal laptop along for the ride. As far as connectivity goes, I am not sure the options presented to them, but they were online in some capacity. On a flight to Vegas during a friends mid-deployment leave, he fired up the laptop, complete with sand from Iraq, much to the annoyance of the other passengers (you can only imagine what infantry guys find amusing)
      • by shiftless (410350)

        On a lot of the medium to large bases, guys will throw in money to purchase their own satellite systems, and they will sell access to people. It's generally expensive, but in many cases it is a great option for getting net access in your room. The "hadji" net access really blows. If you have net access in your room, then of course you can use your laptop, set up wireless access points, or do whatever. If you are using the MWR system (the free internet access, i.e. a computer lab) then you generally aren't a

        • by socsoc (1116769)

          For more details on the net access situation, see my other posts.

          Or you could tell us?

      • by WillKemp (1338605)

        Can you bring/use laptops? Is there a wireless access point or is that considered to much of a security threat?

        You can buy laptops from the PX shop on at least some US bases. My last laptop came from a PX in Kabul. If you can buy them on the base, i'd assume they'll let you use them there too.

    • by amilo100 (1345883)
      "and internet that the MWR give us for free is actually really quite good considering where we're at."

      I currently have a crappy (and expensive) 3G connection that keeps on disconnecting. So what you are basically saying is that Americans in a war zone have better access than me (living in a stable country)?
      Amazing.
    • For all our sakes, stop reading Slashdot at work!
       
      ..I kid, I kid

    • by v1 (525388)

      what's wrong with skype or ichat?

    • by shiftless (410350) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @09:44PM (#26768457) Homepage

      Yo dude, hello from Camp Phoenix, Kabul! Never been to Blessing, but I've heard of it. IIRC, you fuckers are always getting lit up, or at least you used to when I went through the area a couple years back.

      To the OP, most larger bases have a SPAWAR system. That's a very good satellite system with a bunch of phones and computers available. You purchase minutes off the SPAWAR web site and make calls back to the states for $.04/min. You can also use Skype, as VOIP bandwidth is guaranteed. Laptops are generally not allowed on the system, but the network actually has very few (if any) restrictions. I download torrents all the time, for example, by running uTorrent off a thumb drive. The system is really slow during peak hours but in the middle of the night you can get some fantastic download speeds. I've hit 400k+ a sec before on torrents.

      Smaller bases (small FOBs) may only have DSN phone access. In that case, you just call back to a base in the states, have them transfer you to an outside line, and use your calling card to complete the call. Just as cheap as SPAWAR, though more hassle.

      At any rate, what it comes down to is, you will have no problems keeping in touch with family, even if you are stationed on the smallest, shittiest FOB in Afghanistan. So don't worry about it!

      P.S. be sure to bring a big external drive. You'll need it to hold the thousands of movies people will let you copy off their drives.

      • by ccoder (468480)
        Am I the only one reading this to be worried about security ?
        • by shiftless (410350)

          Probably, since there wasn't anything in my post that could even remotely be considered classified or sensitive information.

      • "P.S. be sure to bring a big external drive. You'll need it to hold the thousands of movies people will let you copy off their drives."

        Yes, yes, bringing a HUGE drive is a great idea. Several of them even... however, since I work in IA for you folks, could I possibly suggest that you have a virus scanner program on that drive? Honestly, viruses are a major problem as many of you in Afghanistan should know (FRAGO 11 ring a bell?).

        In summary, bring hard drives and bring anti virus software.

    • Thank you for your service, and stay safe out there.
  • There's always the satellite phone option. Yes it is a bit pricey, but it should be a very reliable option given the terrain, etc that make such a mountainous country a less than ideal place for a cellular or traditional radio solution.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @06:50PM (#26767439) Homepage

    RFC1149 is the obvious approach one would take. Though there is some packet loss, the packets can be sufficiently large to transmit entire messages without fragmentation.

  • Regulations (Score:5, Informative)

    by breakzoidbeg (1260428) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @06:50PM (#26767443)
    Communication Through un-official means may get you into some trouble, so be discrete no matter what option you choose so be careful. When the prime minister of Canada visited our base in kandahar they blacked out official communications and were really on top of unauthorized communications (no e-mail even). Keep your head down mate!
    • by LiNKz (257629) *

      Good to know, I've been concerned about that as well. I'm not entire sure of the regulations related to communication devices. In all, regardless of what I might want I won't set myself up for trouble, but I am interested in the possibilities.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by MrFreezeBU (54843)
        One thing to watch for, if someone deployed to the base is critically injured or killed, all unofficial communication channels are closed until the next-of-kin can be notified, for understandable reasons. I've been on the US side of one of these blackouts, and although unpleasant and nerve racking, I can understand the reasoning behind the decision.
  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @06:51PM (#26767453)

    Osama, is that you?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Unless you like giving NSA employees jollies, don't be doing any phone sex from Afghanistan.

  • Video Skype (Score:5, Informative)

    by flyingfsck (986395) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @07:09PM (#26767585)
    Video Skype on a Linux Netbook is the easiest way to do it.
  • My company provides VSAT service in the Middle East and Africa, including as far east as Afghanistan.

    VSAT latency is 600-1000 ms, and many VSAT Internet service providers prioritise voice-over-IP. We certainly do, although to a limited number of providers due to technical limitations.

    Given sufficient bandwidth, VoIP will do fine. Be sure to use a service that supports good audio compression, and turn it on. Use G.729 or G.723, and never G.711.

    On an iDirect VSAT network with cRTP enabled (RTP header compr

    • by grcumb (781340)

      My company provides VSAT service in the Middle East and Africa, including as far east as Afghanistan.

      I have a colleague working in Internet in Afghanistan. He tells me there are others investing directly in building out VSAT access there as well. See o3b Networks [o3bnetworks.com] for details.

      His personal observation? It's interesting work and very very challenging in a place like Afghanistan, fighting your way through the red tape alone is a major achievement, then there are all the service delivery problems without any in

  • by lindec (771045) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @07:19PM (#26767647) Homepage
    My father has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world and he brings with him a T-Mobile Quad-band phone with the International Package. He got pretty good service in Afghanistan. You can check the rates here: https://www.t-mobile.com/International/RoamingOverview.aspx?tp=Inl_Tab_RoamWorldwide [t-mobile.com] It looks like calls are about $4.99/minute there, so you probably won't want to chat for hours on end, but my family has used this method for several deployments and it works stellar. Thank you for your service.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      http://www.militel.net/default2.asp?ag=undefined

      Militel is a great method for keeping in contact. It's relatively low cost and you can use just about any Afgan phone. They even give you an 800 number so that people can call you from the states. My father just got back from a 13 month tour at FOB Lindsey and it worked out great for our whole family

    • by oldebloke (881035)
      If the rate quoted is US$4.99/minute, that is ridiculously expensive. A look at the Prepaid SIM Cards available from Telestial.com and others shows that much cheaper rates are available from world, regional and local SIM Cards. Of course this depends on whether you have a sim-unlocked phone to use. Both AT&T and T-Mobile will do that for a reasonable or no fee for individual traveling overseas. BTW, I am not an employee of nor compensated by any firms mentined.
    • It looks like calls are about $4.99/minute there

      Who in their right mind would pay $5/minute when drastically cheaper alternatives are so readily available, unless they were only in town on a 48-hour flyby? Just pop into your local chicken-and-tire shop and pick up a SIM card.

  • A Little Info (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 07, 2009 @07:21PM (#26767657)

    I'm currently in Afghanistan as well.

    SPAWAR provided phones at the MWR are cheap. Take a look at the link: http://oif.spawareurope.net/

    Also, Bently-Walker provides good satellite Internet out here. That's what I'm using right now.

  • Iridium (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Dancing Panda (1321121) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @07:22PM (#26767667)
    Is price an object?

    If not, you can buy an iridium phone for around $1400. Plans are around $30/mo, and $1.45 a minute, Or you can do prepaid. They work everywhere, and are pretty portable. You can call the phone from the US for regular long distance charges using a pass-through number.
    • Re:Iridium (Score:4, Informative)

      by TFer_Atvar (857303) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @08:36PM (#26768099) Homepage
      I'd second this. If purchasing one is out of the question, renting one is possible -- though for six months, it may be cost-prohibitive to rent. In addition, if you're worried about the cost, you may be able to recoup your expenses by selling access to other people who similarly want to keep in touch with folks at home. I rented an Iridium phone for a drive to the Arctic Ocean and was able to get people to pay $5 per minute for an opportunity to call home from the Arctic Ocean. The proceeds paid for the phone rental.
    • Inmarsat phones are also a good choice, they work perfectly anywhere but the poles
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inmarsat [wikipedia.org]

      We sell second hand units for ~US$400 where I work. The call plans are also usually pre-paid - about $20 per month.
  • by Sir.Cracked (140212) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @07:34PM (#26767767) Homepage

    If you're at an established base, net connectivity isn't an issue. The same connection that provides net connectivity does phones and other comm. This will be kept up as a matter of necessity.

    Bandwidth is crap, however. You won't be streaming music or movies. When I was at a rather small, forward base, what I did was telnet/ssh to a pre-setup stateside linux box with an ncurses (read, text based) AIM client installed on it. It's low bandwidth, and generally not filtered. Worst case, setup your stateside box to sit on port 80, which is NEVER entirely blocked.

    How useful this all is of course depends on how often you can get a laptop on the network. I was a comm guy, in fact, the comm guy responsible for local infrastructure, so, a drop to my tent was a given, and I brought my own laptop. Depending on your job, you'll get more or less time at a computer, I know most shops had at least one computer in their tent/structure. Since telnet is a standard tool, you don't have to install anything.

    Best of Luck!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Worst case, setup your stateside box to sit on port 80, which is NEVER entirely blocked.

      May not be blocked from the far side but if you happen to have Verizon as your ISP, they have been blocking port 80 from getting to your stateside box for years, purportedly as an anti-spam mechanism. 443 goes through ok as does 8080. Good luck and stay safe.

    • by shiftless (410350) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @09:34PM (#26768409) Homepage

      If you're at an established base, net connectivity isn't an issue. The same connection that provides net connectivity does phones and other comm. This will be kept up as a matter of necessity.

      Bandwidth is crap, however. You won't be streaming music or movies.

      I bet to differ. Most of the larger bases have a SPAWAR system, which is great. It's slow as shit during peak hours, but if you can get on in the early morning it flies. I have hit 400k+ sec on movie torrents. It is 6 AM right now and I am currently downloading three torrents at 120k/sec total.

      • by imsabbel (611519)

        Guess what:
        Its slow as ass BECAUSE somebody else in the network is hitting 400KB in a movie torrent at the same time...

    • SSH really would be preferable to telnet if at all possible, even for innocuous personal data. The encryption/decryption all takes place at the end points so there is no extra bandwidth burden over using telnet. In fact, I cannot really think of a good reason NOT to use SSH when connecting to your Linux server back home over the public Internet.
      • Really? I can. It's very simple, actually. Putty is non-standard software, and isn't generally included on computer builds. While pulling down Putty isn't difficult, it's also a violation of the rules to put it on there without authorization.

        Connecting with Telnet, using the standard client included with windows (which, admittedly, sucks), doesn't actually violate any rules. And violating military rules carries some rather different penalties than just ignoring your employer's computer use policy.

  • Starband Satellite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jarrettwold2002 (601633) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @07:55PM (#26767877)

    I googled around http://www.starband.com/services/ [starband.com]

    2 way satellite
    I don't know if you can hit the satellite from afghanistan. Although, I'm sure you could get a sat-com on station guy to the aim and tune the sucker for you if you can get it approved. Plus

  • I have a friend in Kabul, Afghanistan ... civil stuff, but works in military base. They have internet there, but 70mb daily, then they shut you down .. until tomorrow.

    At least you can use messangers... if the latency sucks, sorry.. don't know the details.

  • Just dig your old Commodore 64 out of the ground [slashdot.org], and dial up a BBS.
    • by WillKemp (1338605)

      There are virtually no landlines in Afghanistan - and i think hooking a C64 up to use a GSM data connection could be tricky!

  • A few options. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ManicDeity (148756)

    I was deployed to Afghanistan last year and was able to call back home a few ways. Also it helped that I was signals intelligence.

    Skype-on Bagram or Kandajar this was very popular since you can get your own internet (crappy Indian internet at least) in your B-Hut. A USB skype is great for MWR computers, but you will have spyware and/or a virus on it after you use it. Also if you use this option bring a copy of limewire or some flavour of it and tell it to not connect to the internet. Both areas are gian

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by EQ (28372)

      Army 98? Good on you.

      98C are the smartest monkey-wrenches in MI.

  • Is it safe (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    To use a Cell Phone network in a country that is very likely infiltrated by your adversary and using it to place phone calls to your loved ones at home.
    You loose anonimity for you and your family and it can be used against you.

  • my friend (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mistahkurtz (1047838)
    is in iraq on his second deployment. before he left for the second time, he picked up a laptop, and now communicates with the family via skype, and keeps in touch with his buds via wow.

    iraq is iraq, and afghanistan is afghanistan, i can't really speak to what differences there may be from base to base let alone country to country, but i'd have to assume that there would be some similarities in infrastructure, availability, etc. expect your latency to be pretty high. my buddy's wow ping is usually around
  • Find Junis. Use his Commodore 64...

  • by pz (113803) on Saturday February 07, 2009 @10:09PM (#26768557) Journal

    Unfortunately, the OP forgot to include one bit of important information: are they being deployed as part of military service, or as part of a civilian effort?

    While there are a few people on Slashdot who are or have been in the military (and I hope they speak up), I daresay the general Slashdot opinion will be worth about what the OP paid for it: squat. I haven't been in the service, but can imagine that there are a raft of security issues around communications back home and that they need to be done through approved channels.

    For civilian deployments, however, the story is entirely different. For this, there is lots of worthwhile advice. Here's my bit ...

    1. I've yet to be in a town, even in remote parts of eastern Europe and the eastern Mediterranean, where there isn't some sort of internet cafe. Connectivity is available. Some intenet cafes even have headsets for Skype.

    2. Cellular phone service is nearly ubiquitous. Seriously. You have to get very remote to not have some kind of mobile phone service. The US has terrible coverage compared to Europe and the Middle East. I've been on small, remote islands in the Aegean with 5 bars. And I've yet to find a country (including in the former Soviet bloc) where you can't get pay-as-you-go service that's heaploads cheaper than any US phone company's international roaming. Just make sure that your phone is (a) unlocked and (b) quad band GSM. Or buy one there.

    3. Everything in the Middle East is negotiable. Everything. Negotiation and bartering is part of the culture.

  • MagicJack (Score:2, Troll)

    by Deathlizard (115856)

    I don't know the feasibility of using this over there, but if you have access to a computer you could look into a Magicjack. [magicjack.com]

    Basically, you plug the Magicjack into a USB jack and it acts like a Voip gateway for a phone. You can use a regular phone or a computer Speaker/Microphone to call. Since you can use a local number for your jack, if you family calls you it will not be long distance. It also supports Caller-ID and voicemail. combine with this phone [overstock.com], and you got a lightweight solution. Although that hand

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was deployed to Iraq in '06/'07. When I was there, cell phones were a big no-no, and for good reason. Allowing unsecured communications is a BIG security risk. VOIP was also not an option because there was no way to connect my computer to the Internet and one cannot simply install unauthorized software on government computers.

    Your best bet is to use provided channels. We had phones though MWR (very cheap but limited to 30 min calls and with long waits), and the AT&T phone center (less wait time, no

  • by FurtiveGlancer (1274746) <AdHocTechGuy.aol@com> on Saturday February 07, 2009 @11:36PM (#26769065) Journal
    Just got back last July. Most cities, major roads and Coalition bases have cell phone voice coverage. In my experience, data services were non-existent outside of Kabul. I primarily used prepaid cell service where I purchased cards to add minutes -- voice only. I made a few international calls on that cell but felt they cost too much for regular use (about $0.80 per minute to US). I used the coalition provided comms wherever possible. The only commercial ISPs I saw off a US base were in Kabul and the data rates were roughly from well below 56k modem to maybe 128k DSL. Hope this helps. Stay safe.
  • Facebook! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by filesiteguy (695431)
    I'm trying to be a troll, however, I have a very good friend who is currently deployed in Kwohst and keeps us informed on a regular basis using facebook. We even chat as I'm waking up and he's going to sleep.
  • Wait and see.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gen11 (132335) on Sunday February 08, 2009 @12:08AM (#26769323)

    Probably best to wait and see when you get there. It's been over a year since I was there and NIPR was horrible and limited but enough to provide the basic connection. Then our camp had a satellite connected that about a hundred of us shared. It was slower than dialup and expensive with a high monthly rate and initial equipment charge of a 2-3k, if memory serves. Hopefully things have changed and you have fiber to the hubble by then. lol. Good luck and keep your head down!

  • I can tell you that as someone who has experience deploying to both Iraq and Afghanistan, it is not all that hard to keep in contact with your friends and family back home. Now, granted, I was a commo guy in the Army, so i had access to phones/internet at practically any given time. But, if another soldier asked to use our phone or internet line I usually had no problem letting them do so. Unless they were a jerk. If that's the case, then they're on their own. But yeah, the VoIP phones that the Army uses, t
    • by hazem (472289)

      Make friends with your commo guys!!

      Some things apparently never change. My grandfather was in the Navy after WWII and he said if you wanted to make life better for yourself, make good friends with the mailman and the cook.

      When I was, myself, in the Army, a good friend of mine got detailed to a Navy ship and making friends with the cook scored him all kinds of pastries and such.

  • I have, however, noticed in my searches that Afghanistan has recently boomed with cellular coverage

    Roshan [roshan.af] is around 5 years old. Why not ask them?

    Check the map [roshan.af].

  • If you are going to Afghanistan and you are a Slashdot reader then it is quite likely that you are going to Afghanistan as a solder.

    If that is the case then you should say good by to your family or don't go at all. It is your choice. Your country doesn't depend on the status of Afghanistan for its freedom or economic security. Your family depends on you for its freedom or economic security. If you go to the other side of the world for some vague and undefined reason like duty or honor, then you are bet

  • by Fallon (33975) <Devin...Noel@@@Gmail...com> on Sunday February 08, 2009 @02:33PM (#26774199) Homepage Journal
    Afghanistan has pretty good cell phone coverage and not horrible long distance rates. And like most of the rest of the world (not U.S.A) any GSM phone that utilizes the right bands (get a quad band world phone) will work there. A SIM card is like $5.00 and you just buy refill cards at whatever denomination you need. No contracts, no BS, just pay as you go.

    In Kabul our house had a 512kbs down 128kbs up satellite link that we split between 18 odd people... It only cost $30,000 a year and was about the cheapest satellite connection available. With that little bandwidth and that many people, VoIP worked decently during non-peak use hours, but not so well when everybody was on. Ping times and packet loss really sucked.

    About the time I was leaving a group of friends got a wireless connection, 802.11 something or WiMax I think from one of the cell phone companies. It was about as expensive per person & shared bandwidth as our satellite connection. Being terrestrial based rather than satellite, it had much better ping times.

    Most of the bigger military bases have some local ISP on the base providing service for reasonable ($10-60 or so a month) rates. Service is usually way over subscribed and supported by cat5 strung over the ground or what not.

    The military is pretty good about supporting the troops. If you have a DSN (Defense Switched Network) phone, which is most of the phones the military has over there, you can call a U.S. military base stateside and have them patch you through to a local number near the base, or a 1-800 number for a calling card.

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