Keeping in touch with home.

Discussion in 'The Intelligence Cell' started by TimSix3, Nov 13, 2011.

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  1. Evening all.

    I'm not in the Army, but work for a company that's creating a new video message service. It basically like a cross between Skype and email, i.e. you get the good stuff about video, but with the convenience of being able to send and view messages any time you want. The basic service is completely free, but we will charge for premium apps if you want to do editing, or high quality messages.

    We initially thought that young families and business travellers would be our main users, but several people have mentioned that people in the Army might find it a really useful way to keep in touch with home. So, if you've got a spare minute, I'd be interested to know:

    1. If you're in Afghanistan, or posted internationally, how you currently communicate with family back home (phone, email, SMS, sending photos or videos by email, Skype, Facebook, etc).

    2. Whether there are any restrictions on if and how you can communicate (i.e. is there free internet, what's the bandwidth like, can you use it 24/7 or just during certain periods, etc).

    3. What kind of devices people have/use (i.e. are there public PCs anyone can use, do people bring their own laptops, how many people have smartphones/iPhones, etc).

    4. Whether you think video messages would actually be useful...

    Thanks in advance, and happy to get anyone interested as a tester on the service.

  2. I put off wearing green some time ago after wearing out the Soviets (result) and so can't give you any current feedback. However I am, through skype, in contact with future Mrs Dwarf in Chile.
    I am very interested in the video message part.
    This, I take it, would allow one to record a video and for viewr to see it later at leisure. If so this feature would be useful, as I imagine for servicemen to receive video mail from family and friends.
  3. I am no longer serving, but am working in Afghanistan (although I am on leave at the moment).

    The Internet isn't free, it is quite expensive....although it is free for squaddies for a period, but it is very limited, so some buy internet services from "ISPs" around camp. The main issue is bandwidth, it is expensive, so you do not get a lot. So if you could compress your video stream or clips/messages as much as possible, it may be useful.
    Of course videos would be a hit, what squaddie with a family (or wench) is not going to want to see a video of his wife and kids (or his missus in the buff)
  4. I am deploying on H16 (Apr-Oct 12) and was told that Skype is not available whilst in Afghanistan. Knowing squaddies as I do, no doubt there are some that have found a way around it. That being said, I have been told that facetime is still available.
    I am also under the impression that in the ribs in Bastion, internet time is limited to 20mins per night (although I may have got the wrong). You can however queue and use the Paradigm facilities after that.
  5. Cheers for this.

    We're compressing the video a fair amount (so that it works with mobile phones), so its pretty bandwidth efficient.

    Any ideas how much bandwidth costs and what you get? (i.e. is a fixed number of Megabytes/Gigabytes, or is it time-limited?).
  6. Yes. Similar idea. The difference is that the service we're working on is a little faster and works with mobile phones. So for instance, a solider's family could take a video while they're out in the park and send it over, makes it a bit more spontaneous.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. OK, interesting. Any idea why Skype isn't available? Security? Bandwidth hog?

    I've heard about Paradigm, do they do paid-for internet services?

    Good luck out there.
  8. Bandwidth out there is pretty shite, if you use the WIFI (where available) you get a set amount, not time. there used to be a way round this, but I believe they've fixed it. (this was H12)
    I'm off out again for H16, but not heard any new info on the welfare package. There was mention of being able to buy internet time from somewhere in bastion and use skype, but I don't know any info on that as yet.
    So long as I can send and receive Blueys I'm usually happy, e-blueys are even better.
  9. I pay $90 a month for an alleged 256 up and down from a crappy "ISP" with unlimited download, which is par for the course. It is very rarely that due to incompetent bandwidth management and I used 256k in a hotel in London the other day and it was unbelievably fast compared to the 256k I get there. Even though it is crap, it is one of the better ones. Also bear in mind that a majority of the Internet providers use satellite, so there is going to be latency.
  10. I believe there is a company called Skylink that offer a service in Bastion, which lads use to get onto skype. They use wimax around the camp, but it is still pish.
  11. OK, got it. The service we're working on does well on really bad mobile network coverage, so it shouldn't be an issue. $90 a month? Sounds high, I expect plenty of people try to do without?
  12. Twill be perfect in Afghanistan then, mobile network is bad and everything else is slow. When will this service be out? What sort of costs are we looking at for the premium services?

    $90 is a lot, and I have voiced my unhappiness at the cost and have been told, well you are in Afghanistan. I responded that it doesn't matter, I provided a similar thing in Bosnia for a hell of a lot less...but it all falls on deaf ears.....the way they see it is that they use satellite, which is expensive of course and they have a captive market. A lot of people buy it because they want to use skype etc to talk to home and they can't do that on the welfare service.
  13. Sounds OK, if your in Bastion.

    Mobile phones are not allowed in Herrick, so an App would be useless apart from the familys end, but then how is that any diffrent to them recording a video message and emailing it to Cpl Bloggs?

    I fail to see how this is a unique service, by the sounds of it all your software will do is cut out the part where the person has to manually attach the video file to a email?

  14. Just to clarify:
    1. It works on PCs and Macs, as well as iPhones/iPads.
    2. If you email someone a video file, if they're on a PC and want to reply they need to: open a video recorder application, record the message, save the file (choosing the appropriate quality settings), open the email application, attach the file to an email, address the email, then send it. Or using our service, they would just press "reply" and everything happens seamlessly. I.e. it's a lot more convenient.