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VoIP for Deployed Soldiers?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago

Communications 362

rickbassham asks: "With VoIP really catching on these days, I decided to look into it for keeping deployed soldiers in touch with family and friends. I am currently a soldier in Iraq, and have the ability to get satellite-based internet, thanks to a few of the locals. While individually it is prohibitively expensive, a group of soldiers can come together to purchase a decent-to-high-speed internet connection. One of my plans is to link other soldiers to Vonage or another VoIP provider, so they will be able to keep in touch. Understanding the latency issues with VoIP via satellite (not to mention the other disadvantages), what upload speed does Slashdot recommend as a minimum for a QoS enabled connection for about 15-20 soldiers? The same for a non-QoS connection? What recommendations do you have for a good VoIP provider?"

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362 comments

Soldiers are supposed to die, not telephone (-1, Flamebait)

Hot Summer Nights (771962) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682515)

Hope they die sooner.

Re:Soldiers are supposed to die, not telephone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682662)

I suggest satellite phones. Fry brains nicely.

Re:Soldiers are supposed to die, not telephone (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682847)

you should die for making that comment, you senseless Communistic pile of horse manuer

Re:Soldiers are supposed to die, not telephone (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682936)

Actually he's a senseless Communistic pile of horse manure.

I agree though, he should die.

Re:Soldiers are supposed to die, not telephone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682990)

You re already dead Mr. smith.
***Tracking location***

Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (4, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682516)

I don't know about this particular solider but I have had no problems contacting three friends that were/are deployed in Iraq via the Internet. One was on AIM for 45+ minutes a day and another is on AIM for several hours a day. The third isn't quite as Internet saavy but routinely sent emails and pictures at least weekly. Granted they aren't on 24/7 like we are here but I had no problems contacting them via the Internet.

I would like to know if I was experiencing something that is unusual for military personnel deployed overseas? I mean this guy makes it seem as if he's hanging on to a rope thrown to him by the locals. From what I understand from the one guy I know that just returned from Iraq the locals over there want absolutely NOTHING to do w/the military personnel stationed in the desert.

I also know that phone calls were routinely made to his family and to another buddy that is stationed in the States. Why would they need VoIP and why would they need to do it via satellite connection?

As this guy said, sat-based Internet SUCK HARD for VoIP being that it is so latent. That wouldn't exactly make for real-time conversations regardless of how clear the voice might be... I have run the testers that other slashdotters have linked to before (sorry don't have it on-hand right now) and my 256k upstream seems to rate just fine. I haven't actually used VoIP though so I really couldn't tell you and I certainly couldn't recommend something to handle 15-20 people simulatanously (if that's what you mean).

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682633)

At least on Navy bases, the phone starts at $1 a minute in the Gulf (satphone). Having internet if you get a villa in Bahrain or something WOULD be hugely expensive.
Lot of guys live lots of different ways there.

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (3, Insightful)

ZorinLynx (31751) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682794)

So, these folks put their LIVES on the line for their country, yet they're still raped on phone charges for calling their loved ones at home?

Something is really, really wrong with this picture.

$1 per minute? Sheesh. That's obscene.

Calls home should be free. Perhaps limited (or everyone would spend their time on the phone), but free.

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (1)

mmkkbb (816035) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682887)

$1 per minute? Sheesh. That's obscene.

You can send soldiers prepaid cards, but they MUST be AT&T. I wonder how much AT&T is making off that contract?

(Apparently, you cannot send coffee to soldiers, either, since Halliburton already provides them with coffee-product-like swill)

Infidel dogs!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11683024)

I thought people in Muslim countries didn't drink coffee. Is Haliburton knowingly contributing to the deviancy of American military personell?!!!

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (4, Insightful)

pilgrim23 (716938) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682649)

Seems to me, "talkin to the folks back home" has always been a function of aid organizations like USO, or of the Army itself. Soldiers needing to BUY time to talk to loved ones seems a terrible solution. Our soldiers are already putting life on the line, (and for lousy pay too one could add). In older conflicts the two things that armies KNEW you could NEVER be mucked with was 1 Chow and 2 Mail. Seems in today's world this would fall under catagory number 2. Also, in WWII at least; letters to home were free, no stamp.

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682917)

I think you're a little confused . . . that was the "greatest generation". This is the "expendable generation".

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (2, Insightful)

temojen (678985) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682772)

I thought communications by soldiers deployed in war zones were censored. By every country that has been in a war since The Art of War was written. The chain of command might not look too favourably on soldiers using non-official channels, even to say "Hi mom, I miss you".

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (2, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682833)

> From what I understand from the one guy I know that just returned from Iraq the
> locals over there want absolutely NOTHING to do w/the military personnel
> stationed in the desert

Depends on where in Iraq you are. Iraq is a very divided country; in some spots, you're quite safe as a soldier (even an American soldier, although being a foreign soldier is better). In others, even leaving your base in an armored vehicle is risking your life. It all depends. But in general, yes, most Iraqis according to polls don't want us there; over 80% of Sunnis and almost 70% of Shiites, and almost half of Sunnis think that attacks on US forces are justified (according to the last Zogby poll). Looks like UIA (SCIRI, Dawa, etc) are going to be asking the US to stay, as the ING only has about 5,000 people who are actually combat ready (despite the fact that plank #2 on their platform was to demand a timetable for the US to leave). A lot of their supporters have expressed anger at this change in stance.

But yeah... back to the original question, I wouldn't dream of VoIP via Satellite; it's not an issue of upload speed as the soldier asking the question wanted to know, but the latency. Unless the Iraqis are offering to improve the speed of light, VoIP will always be quite laggy. IM works nice, though - I've chatted with a friend in LSA Anaconda over ICQ.

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (2, Insightful)

jpetts (208163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682978)

(even an American soldier, although being a foreign soldier is better)

Isn't an American soldier a foreign soldier in Iraq?

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (2, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 9 years ago | (#11683068)

Quite true. :) I meant "non-American COW members", but your point is well taken.

I do often find it amusing hearing American officials talking about how there have been hordes of foreign fighters infiltrating Iraq and creating conflict. Or more recently, hearing American officials condemning Syria for occupying another country (Lebanon) without the people's support. :)

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (2, Informative)

Casca (4032) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682974)

I've successfully used Cisco's VOIP Communicator software running over a dial-up 56k connection (so thats 53k max down and 33.6k max up). It wasn't great quality, but it was tolerable.

Jitter is definitely the kicker for VOIP, delay isn't that big of a deal. It takes some getting used to in regular conversation to have a >200ms delay, but I'd say anything under 1500ms could be tolerable with some experience.

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (2, Insightful)

Skye16 (685048) | more than 9 years ago | (#11683070)

And I would imagine that just hearing their love one's voices, even if it was few seconds delayed, would more than make up for the irritation and not being able to have a long conversation.

Re:Don't know where this guy is stationed but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682979)

Now all you have to do is teach Granny how to use AIM and to always answer A/S/L with 17/f/midwest.

Seriously though, there is alot more that can be shared in a faster time period over a phone, and as said in a post further down the thread, it is far more emotional and heartwarming to hear the voice of someone you love who is risking their life for your "freedom".

slashcode must be fixed (-1, Offtopic)

eobanb (823187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682518)

"nothing for you to see here..."

I really hate when this happens, and there must be a reasonably easy way to fix it...and how about that XHTML, huh....

Exactly. (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682678)

They should post the story and its Comments link after the Comments page is ready to show on Slashdot.

Take off every sig. For great justice.

The best sig ever (but I'm keeping mine, thank you).

Back on topic: This reminds me of the Videophones used mostly around these areas by news reporters et al. They look horrible and still lag from the satellites etc. I hope someone finds a way to transmit the pictures (and in this case, the VoIP voices) with optic fiber or tachyons or something, to reduce the lag and keep the quality high.

Skype (1, Informative)

Raven42rac (448205) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682537)

Skype [skype.com] No pesky service fees as long as all involved have accounts, or you can call for a low low rate, 1.7 Euro a minute.

Re:Skype (1)

js7a (579872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682566)

1.7 euro a minute? That's absurd! Surely you must mean 0.017/minute?

Re:Skype (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682684)

Offtopic, but I can't help ask:

Your sig writes: Disabled US vets 10 yrs after Viet Nam: 10% 12 yrs after Gulf War: 89% Stop uranium inhalation poisoning!

Is there good reason to believe the cause of this is uranium poisoning; or is it mostly people looking for government payouts? (feel free to respond as an AC to avoid burning karma)

Re:Skype (1)

jrcamp (150032) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682589)

$1.70 (euro) a minute is a "low low rate"?

TelIAX, a Asterisk friendly VoIP provider, lists only $0.30 (USD) for Iraq.

http://teliax.com/rates.html

Re:Skype (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682670)

I've got to second Skype. Used it to talk to suppliers in mainland China with no problems. Free, works with linux, what more could you ask for?

Just tell your friends at home to leave their computers on, and they'll hear it ring when you cal, just like a "real phone", but without the VoIP "solution provider" phone bill.

Re:Skype (2, Informative)

merdaccia (695940) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682690)

He means 1.7 Euro cents [skype.com] a minute. Although it's closer to 35 Euro cents to Iraq.

However, do give Skype a try. I conference call with friends in Europe and Africa from North America and some of these people are on dialup. It works very well, and it's free if you're not calling an actual phone.

Re:Skype (2, Informative)

snizfast (763637) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682693)

The Skype client allows you to make calls across the Internet for free. Both you and your family back at home will need the client installed. Skype can work over dialup so bandwidth is not much of an issue. But the lag time to send the signal to the satellite and back would get ... well annoying. Another option that works back in the states is cell phones. Verizon for example gives free ISDN bandwidth Internet over its cell phones. I doubt that it is an option for most troops but I thought I would mention it.

Re:Skype (2, Insightful)

technologyclairvoyan (855503) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682870)

Skype is your best bet if you're looking for free VOIP and don't need to call local emergency services. Currently telephones are the standard of voice communication. Unfortunatly, the general public is afraid of change. On top of that, multi-billion dollar corporations are reliant on people paying for voice communication and will stop at nothing to make people believe phones will be needed untill the end of time. This can be parallelled with oil companies trying to stall advancements in alternative fuel production. If you don't need oil to make gas for cars anymore, what do they have left? Worthless drilling sites and a worthless company. The future is today folks. It's time to upgrade your standard of communication. Free (Skype) communication for all!

Re:Skype (0)

Colonel Cholling (715787) | more than 9 years ago | (#11683005)

On top of that, multi-billion dollar corporations are reliant on people paying for voice communication and will stop at nothing to make people believe phones will be needed untill the end of time. This can be parallelled with oil companies trying to stall advancements in alternative fuel production.

Let me tell you how all this works: you see, telephone service providers are funded by the corporations, so they fight for the corporations... while they sit in their corporation buildings... and they're all corporation-y... and they make lots of money!

Fuck it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682540)

Quit the military!

Re:Fuck it (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682876)

Well said brother!

Bush would not approve of this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682547)

Your Übercommander Bush would not want you communicating through non-secured lines. Please seek other alternatives.

Skype? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682551)

What about skype? Its free for PC-PC calls and you can buy time for PC-phone calls.

I've been using it to keep in touch with co-workers spread across North America and the quality for

Latency (2, Informative)

Talking Goat (645295) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682567)

Latency on sat connections can be upwards of 900ms... I don't think VoIP is going to like that very much at all.

Re:Latency (2, Interesting)

DaemonTW (733739) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682829)

I've used a few different 2 way satellite links, latency is generally about 500-600ms for a round trip in the systems I used. Using the voice port in a Cisco router was quite useable, in fact I was surprised at how well the TCP/IP stack functioned with the high latency.

Latency (3, Interesting)

shaitand (626655) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682572)

The latencies associated with a sat connection make voip over one impossible. As bad as latencies appear to be, the sat companies use a lot of tricks to reduce latency with normal web traffic. Those tricks will not work with streaming voice.

Re:Latency (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682664)

Aren't NORMAL call transmitted via satellite already? Or do I hallucinate...

Re:Latency (1)

DShard (159067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682808)

not really, though there are satellite phones. If you've ever seen a news report via satellite you will notice the lag between questions and answers. Calls oversees go through undersea fiber optic links for reasons of bandwidth, price, availability and latency. Also repairing a undersea fiber optic line is trivial compared to repairing or replacing a satellite.

Re:Latency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682865)

This is true, however, most military personell use satelite phone and internet connections. VOIP over sat-ip shouldn't be that terrible. Sure, there will be some latency, but it shouldn't be any worse than a typical satelite phone/TV broadcast conversation... The delay is what? 3-4 seconds? So what?

bandwidth doesn't matter (3, Informative)

selfabuse (681350) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682573)

When you're talking about several thousand milliseconds of latency, all the bandwidth in the world isn't going to make your VoIP any better. If it takes 2000ms from when the packet leaves your VoIP provider until when it gets to you, no matter what you do, your conversation is going to have a 2000ms delay..

unless I'm wrong, which I'm pretty sure I'm not, but if I am, please post back! I'm sure my VoIP customers would most appreciate it ;)

Re:bandwidth doesn't matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682873)

need i point out that 2000ms is in fact 2 seconds... are you using tcp over mule train???????

Satellite Internet has horrible latency, never min (2, Insightful)

Paladin814 (518257) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682574)

Satellite Internet has horrible latency, never mind the fact that it is also traveling half way around the globe. Vonage cuts out quite a bit as your latency increases, if it were 200ms per packet, that would be quite a delay and perhaps even borderline unusable.

Balls (1)

Skiron (735617) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682823)

never mind the fact that it is also traveling half way around the globe.

So cable connections go through it? That would explain...

Re:Satellite Internet has horrible latency, never (1)

Padrino121 (320846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682827)

The problem with VoIP cutting out isn't latency, it's jitter and packet loss. Jitter being the delta between the difference in arrivial time between packets. For example if you have the following

Packets:

1 - 200ms
2 - 180ms
3 - 240ms

You have a maximum of 60ms of jitter between 2 and 3.

If there is consistent latency but low jitter and loss packet rate will still be smooth and the voice quality will be as well, minus the general delay from sending to receiving. Any VoIP solution accounts for jitter and decent ones have dynamic jitter buffers which can stretch out pretty good on poor quality lines. Still nothing's perfect.

I've been involved with a few VoIP deployments using INMRASAT satellite connections and have been successful. Average RTT 1.2s and over 2s if it's a double hop, say from the US to the middle east (needs to go through Germany).

To help with the original question, adding QoS to the line isn't going to change the BW requirements, what it should do is keep the packet loss and jitter down depending on the queuing mechanisms used. I wouldn't however count on your satellite provider handling QoS, or for that matter the public backbone.

Ping (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682599)

Google calculator:

(4 * radius of Earth) / the speed of light = 85.1002062 milliseconds

Don't expect shorter ping roundtrips.

Re:Ping (1)

snikeris (838429) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682665)

And thats if the packets get processed at the speed of light as well. Expect 2-3 times that in practical terms.

Okay Idea.. Wrong Tech (4, Interesting)

IcEMaN252 (579647) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682609)

Sat-Internet usually uses GEO satellites, so as you say its really not good for latency sensetive applications, ie. VoIP.

But, if you're thinking about pooling resources, what about some type of satellite phone? Most sat-phones use LEO satellites, so latency isn't a problem. Its true, they are expensive, but if you are pooling resources, it might make it affordable and provide a better quality of service.

Of course, I'm not a soldier, nor do I personally know one, so I can't speak to what's really reasonable there. Also, I'd be curious to know what regulations the military has about personal communications equipment.

Re:Okay Idea.. Wrong Tech (2, Informative)

CharlieHedlin (102121) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682659)

The problem here is that the per minute costs are still very expensive, and VoIP wouldn't be.

The latency isn't the end of the world, it is jitter that is really a concern. Geo satelites have been used for voice for a long time, and while somewhat anoying, are perfectly usable.

Boy when I was overseas things was different! (4, Interesting)

lottameez (816335) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682618)

Durn kids these days, and their conflabbed newfangled VOIP teknollergy.

Back in the day, when I was stationed overseas, the cheapest way to call home was a service that was hosted by ham radio operators. We'd call up the local ham who would transmit to a us-bound operator who would make the local call to the family. It was always weird talking to your mother to say things like "How are you doing? OVER!" all the time.

Re:Boy when I was overseas things was different! (2, Insightful)

pclminion (145572) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682697)

This solution won't work in the future with the BPL psychotics actively trying to make the ham bands useless.

Re:Boy when I was overseas things was different! (4, Informative)

dr_canak (593415) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682733)

Actually,

the shortwave community can still make this happen, and does. I live in Chicago. Using a Sony ICF 2010 shortwave reciever a couple years back I picked up a military transport over Newfoundland. The soldiers on the plane were returning from Afghanistan. They were communicating with a HAM in Iowa, who was then patching them through for 1 minute conversations to family to let them know their arrival time in Washington. Pretty neat actually, and purely accidental that I heard the transmission as i was running up and down the dial listening for interesting things.

jeff

Re:Boy when I was overseas things was different! (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682742)

VOIP on a satellite link wouldn't be much better- to avoid cutouts you'd have to go half-duplex (like the ham radio, complete with "Over" to tell the other person that they can talk now) except it would be even MORE annoying because it would be a minimum 2 seconds before they could reply (Geosat ping times being what they are).

Re:Boy when I was overseas things was different! (1)

lost_n_confused (655941) | more than 9 years ago | (#11683037)

Brings back memories of back in the day where you didn't even make long distance phone calls. I remember back in the mid 70s being stationed in Korea and using the Mars station to call home. My mother was so confused by the OVERs that I gave up and called collect at $4 something a min because it was cheaper then me paying for it.

Latency will be the major issue (1)

kabbor (856635) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682628)

Any broadband connection will provide enough bandwidth. (even dial-up could _just_ hack it.)

However, 2-way satelite can add up to 1200ms delay, as the signals go up and back (twice) to the geostationary satellite. This would be added to the ordinary delay.

Support our troops (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682642)

1) Support our troops
2) Bring them home
3) Lie and defame them

Hey, it worked for Vietnam.

.

.

Re:Support our troops (-1, Offtopic)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682778)

Except in this instance- there's no need to lie and the actual defamation belongs to the politicians back home who have outsourced this war to Jailbirds-R-Us and their magical torture team. Far better to let the troops have as much communication as possible back home- so that we can transform our whole society into something that doesn't have to go fight a war to keep oil prices low.

mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682916)

Informative. That's the fucking truth!

Shouldn't this be supplied or something? (3, Insightful)

smcavoy (114157) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682651)

It seems like this would be something basic the government would provide to the people who are risking their lives EVERYDAY.

Re:Shouldn't this be supplied or something? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682700)

They will, right after they finish up-armoring the humvees.

Go ahead, mod me troll.

Stick to instant messenger(s) (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682660)

Over-the-sattelite latencies are pretty bad even in dedicated sattelite phones. Add the IP-level issues and it is just impossible.

Instant messengers (Yahoo!, AIM, MSN, etc.) are free and, most likely, are much easier for your contacts in US to install too.

Good luck!

Re: Empathy out there? (1)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682798)

I'm not in the military, just a consultant that travels a lot worldwide . . . Even I can appreciate the emotional difference between IM'ing and hearing the voice of the people you love.

It's easy for me to empathize with the desires of these soldiers . . . they are away from home longer than I am, and they are risking their lives. I can completely understand their desire for something more than IM and cheaper than normal long distance rates for hearing the voices of their loved ones . . .

Deployed (0, Flamebait)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682667)

>I am currently a soldier in Iraq, and have the ability to get satellite-based internet, thanks to a few of the locals.

First, thanks for your service.

Second, I'd keep my eye on your "locals."

Providers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682671)

Vonage or Voicepulse for provider.
Consult their tech folks for requirements
Generally 90Kbps recommended for a good connection 40Kbps for a tolerable one.
Limitations may also exist in the ability of the carriers service area.
Let Vonage or Voicepulse know what your doing and they might help defray the cost for the publicity value.
Just one question though, are your commanders going to be thrilled with you having an open line back home? Are there opsec considerations to this?

Half Duplex, it'd have to be (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682692)

Half duplex with a 2 second wait in between, I just can't see any other way to do it with Sattelite ping times. I think you're better off with a Sattelite phone so that you don't have the additional bandwidth cosiderations of IP protocol (which with streaming applications is really bad- almost quadrupling the size of the packets).

Heads up (4, Informative)

Eol1 (208982) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682702)

While possible offtopic would like to warning the poster though he mentions he is getting a commerical line.

As a former theatre level Information Assurance Manager, VOIP works through the great DOD firewall in the sky (to include SWA). I know the current IAM and while he is a good guy, you never know when command is going to get in the mood to bust troopers for stupid shit (like non AKO IM). VIOP is against AR 25-2 and CENTCOM 25-260 .... watch your ass, with all going on your don't need a ART15.

Re:Heads up (2, Informative)

ChiefArcher (1753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682758)

They are talking about getting their own net connection.. Not going through DISA SWA.

BTW, I was the one locking down the firewalls in S. Iraq / Kuwait. :) I left there.. so i have no idea what state they are in now.

Re:Heads up (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682860)

By way of clarification: Deployed soldiers are only supposed to communicate via approved secure communications channels, and breaking this rule can and does result in diciplinary action. Military channels (such as payphones on aircraft carriers, military satellite phones, etc.) are secured, recorded, and actively monitored. The US Govt strongly discourages military personel from going around these channels for obvious reasons.

Re:Heads up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682911)

Dude, I think my head may have exploded from trying to comprehend all the acronyms. Stupid military acronyms!

Vonage works great from Europe (4, Informative)

StateOfTheUnion (762194) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682708)

I use vonage from Europe to call the US and find the quality great . . . however I have a land based DSL connection.

Vonage says this [vonage.com] about satellite internet:

Yes, our service generally works with DSL Satellite Internet connections or any Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) device (i.e. your home router). DSL requires Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE) authentication "username & password" to access the Internet so you will have to configure your Vonage adapter or home router for this service. There may be some latency inherent on a satellite connection or line of sight issues that could affect audio quality when making calls through the Vonage service. Our calls require 90 kbps of consistent upload/download speed to make and receive calls through the Vonage network.

Latency will kill you (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682710)

G.711 only works up to about 250ms each way. After that your MOS score will go down and the voice will just plain start to suck.

G.729 which is smaller in size can handle only about 125ms one way delay before it breaks down and its MOS score will drop off.

Also factor in that human speech typically assumes a pause of about 500ms a change of speaker you could have shitty voice quality with people talking over each other because they thought the other person had stopped speaking.

Doing the math for bandwidth (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682713)

On Vonage's site, for best voice quality Vonage recommends 90 kbps. That's upstream traffic.

so depending on how many people you want to be able to talk at a time, you should multiply that by the number of people and come up with your upstream traffic requirement.

I'd also recommend you pad that number by 50 to 100% because other programs that try to upload at the same time don't often play nice with Vonage. The bandwidth is supposed to be dedicated while you are talking but other applications try to steal it regularly. It's also useful when you want to surf and talk at the same time to have more bandwidth than you absolutely need.

There are latency issues other people have posted on, you should look for more information on that as well, as I can only speak on the bandwidth situation.

There's nothing shameful about going AWOL, son (1, Flamebait)

plinius (714075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682723)

If you're only working to further the corporate interests (be those oil companies or biotech companies, which are working to force Iraqi farmers to use their biotech seeds-- by force of law), then you really should have no shame in just abandoning your post, slipping into Turkey and walking into the nearest BBC office to declare "I will not be a slave to corporations that have rigged my democracy and rendered it impotent".

Reminds me of a line from Network...

Used VoIP in Iraq/Kuwait (5, Informative)

ChiefArcher (1753) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682729)

I used VoIP in Iraq/Kuwait when I was there.
Worked great. As long as you only go through 1 sat hop, it really wasn't that bad. It's better than nothing. I used packet8 out there btw.

Back in the US,
ChiefArcher

Some Thoughts (3, Informative)

spacefrog (313816) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682759)

I would test-drive your VoIP provider of choice over the connection before you drop the bucks, if VoIP is a make-or-break.

I've had both satellite Internet (Starband...yeeech) and Vonage (after I was able to get cable). While I love Vonage, I would not want to dream of that over satellite latency.

On top of that, a 2-directional satellite system is unlikely to have the upstream bandwidth to make this smooth. Vonage has a "bandwidth saver" that you can enable, but that might be like pissing in the ocean.

That being said, a high-speed, albeit high-latency connection is a very very good thing(tm) even without voice.

Your bandwidth is still limited, so some traffic shaping and transparent http proxying might be in order.

For the communications side of it, perhaps set up a (possibly private) IRC channel where your buddies and family can hang out. You could even setup a local IRC server on your gateway box and link it with an ircd in the states. Don't know how much bandwidth you would save, but it would be cool.

My hats off to you and all of our fighting forces. Whether the war is just or not is an issue with the government, you guys go in harm's way every day.

Ask your local command (3, Interesting)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682771)

For 2 things:
1) Clearance to do this
2) Assuming 1) is OK, recommendations on local connections.

How about Linux-based multiple VoIP? (1)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682776)

If you don't mind the HUGE latency, I'm sure one of the many Linux fanatic can conjure up a neat vanilla box outfitted with six PCI-based audio cards and carry up to six conversation at once.

Free phone calls may be well-received by most soilders who are desperate to hear the voice of their love ones (delayed or not).

The core technology, that being said, is the Internet connection. You say you have it already.

Just ask one of the many USA-based>/A> LUG groups for a donation of a box complete with six headsets. [linux.org]

Just ask! Many of them are patriotic.

Latency.... (2, Informative)

Jas Tilak (859740) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682782)

ITU-T recommendations for toll-quality voice are 150ms round-trip latency which you've got Buckley's chance of getting across a Sat link. That being said, if your expectations are that you are using a Satellite phone, then much higher figures might be quite acceptable. I second the vote for Skype. The iLBC codec it uses degrades very gracefully over low-quality links.

You think you have it bad.... (1)

luckytroll (68214) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682785)

I am putting a laptop onto Mt. Everest next month, and want to run Asterisk on it. Only problem is the latency on the channel and the Maoist Rebels. Oh, and the fact that most hard disks seem to be only rated to run up to 10000 feet. And the nasty temperature swings and the fact that most of the climbers will be too tired to bother running the lab right.

VoIP over Satellite (5, Informative)

qi3ber (144534) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682814)

I work for a VoIP company that sells wholesale termination to customers in various coutries around the globe. Many of our customers come from locations where a landline isn't an option, and use satellite to carry their VoIP to us. From their experience we can say that on average, you're going to be able to handle about 7 simultaneous calls per 128Kbits of upstream. The calls themselves only take up about 12Kbits (each direction) per call, but there will be other data you're likely to be contending with that will eat up some of your available bandwidth.

As others have said, latency is going to be a problem, but from that part of the world, your likely already experience the joys of satellite latency in your "normal" calls. Again, our experience here is that as long as you can keep your latency below about 750ms you're going to have usable calls. A big factor here is the number of satellite hops your provider is send you through. A single hop will keep you under 750, while two hops will generally break the 1000ms barrier.

Anyway, hope those numbers help you in your considerations, and take care.

Thank you for your service (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682816)

It's off the topic, but I just wanted to thank you for your service. God Bless and may you come home safely and quickly.

Bleh (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682840)

I have no fucking idea what the fuck I'm doing. Tell me me how can I do this shit right without doing it right?!?

God damn editors!
Please drop these shitty ask-slashdot articles where there is nothing to answer else than *DUH*!
I can see a solution for the actual dilemma would be nice. Why can't the editors just truncate and EDIT the article so it would actually lead to fruitful answers instead of crappy rambling by clueles bastards?

Re:Bleh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682962)

And why was this modded as a troll?
The approach to the problem is retarded. The editors definately should have dropped this article and told the sumbitter to ask something more sane before being published.

(Please don't tell me it's ok to post any shit because it's "our troops on the field"?)

True... (1)

Fizzl (209397) | more than 9 years ago | (#11683009)

Google would have been a lot more usefull for ths guy than the political flamewar here on /.

Forget QOS (1)

CoreDump (1715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682856)

QOS is not what you need to focus on.

Latency in this application will kill your sound quality far more than a few dropped packets. Optimally you'll want to be under 300ms for things to be manageable.

The other main thing to look for is a CODEC you can use with your chosen provider that uses as little bandwidth as possible and supports loss concealment. You need to worry about those two factors long before QOS becomes relevant to the equation.

CB Style (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682857)

I think the guy above is on to something...

This would work great if used like a CB...but the latency makes realtime two way communication cumbersome....if you started to interupt someone they woudln't know it for up to 2 seconds....and you wouldn't know they knew for 2 more secs.. =P

But with a CB type approach, you could treat it like a slightly delayed nextel phone...just take turns talking...

QOS enabled Connection for 15-20 Soldiers ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682929)

Well. I can't really answer this question because I don't know the the bandwidth requirements of a soldier. Why don't you just set up a wireless link to your tent and go that way or do slirp and a serial link to some dusty unix box ? Don't tell me this does not happen due to security because I know from secondhand experience that it does.

If not, just send smoke signals like you do now.

Oh yeah. Keep yourself alive.

You know what would be cool to set up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682939)

A massive America's Army LAN party for deployed soldiers. Give the boys something to occupy their minds when they're not working the day job.

A low cost option: PC-to-PC (2, Informative)

Splendid Turd (416071) | more than 9 years ago | (#11682967)

One of the PCs on my home network hosts a Ventrilo http://ventrilo.com/ [ventrilo.com] server (very minor overhead.) My group of friends installed the small client software and connect to a password protect "chat" room.

Push-to-talk and voice-activated modes are offered. The client software offers enough options to (possibly) intimidate new users, but once configured it is as easy as it gets.

However, a previous post mentioned the use of AIM to communicate with troops overseas. Many IM clients are now integrating voice/video communication. I believe MSN offers voice and video, and I think AIM has voice as well.

For PC voice communication, I suggest using a decent mic in a fixed location as well as a pair of headphones. The new Logitech webcam I have offers cool face-tracking features as well as an integrated mic.

Question to all: anyone aware of a Windows VOIP app that integrates strong encryption?? I believe Nero's SIPPS http://www.nero.com/us/632232585951420.html/ [nero.com] offers this feature, but I'm looking for an Open Source product. Free would be nice. Anyone??

latency - its not that bad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11682975)

I live on an island that only has satilite communication.

For internet the lowest latency, that you can get is 550ms. It sucks for games. But for email and browsing, it is definately functional.

Off island calls have a split second delay, it is noticable, a little irritating, but nothing that makes it unusable.

I've done it with Starband (2, Insightful)

jaymer (859739) | more than 9 years ago | (#11683004)

I am not in Iraq, but I use a satellite based internet service called Starband (http://www.starband.com/ [starband.com] ) and I have a (claimed) 500/128kbit connection, but I usually get 50kbit/sec upstream. Using Vonage with a Motorola VT1000 VoIP terminal and the "Bandwith Saver" fuction turned down to 30kbits/sec I have no problem making and reciving one call at a time. I have the VT1000 in between the network and the satellite modem so that I don't kill my call when I download a webpage. The latency is about 1 sec, but once you get into a conversation you hardly notice it. For $24.99/month for Unlimited Incoming (to a US number that your families can call for a minimal fee - or even free) and Outgoing calls to the US and Canada, this cannot be beat. Good luck to yourself and all your fellow soliders in Iraq. Thank You, Jamie

Speed of Light (2, Insightful)

bizitch (546406) | more than 9 years ago | (#11683023)

In this case - the speed of light (speed of the electromagnetic spectrum) is just not fast enough for VOIP - no matter how much bandwidth or QOSing you want to do.

Think of what you see when you're watching someone on the news "live" from somewhere via satelite. There is at least a full 1-2 second delay before he/she responds to a question. Thats the speed of light delay causing that, you've hit a brick wall of physics.

You may still use VOIP - and the quality will not be bad - but dont expect any kind of normal telephone experience. You (and the people you talk to) could get used to a kind of walkie-talkie VOIP experience that may be the best.
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