Communicating from Iraq

By on April 16, 2004

There is an old adage, “The army travels on its stomach”. Well I can tell you, the Army orders its food via the internet!! While much of the military depends on the internet, it is the welfare of the common soldier that truly depends on the internet. While ordering beans and bullets is critical, so to is the link with the people back home.

Since arriving in Iraq, people have been amazed at the ease of which I am able to communicate with my friends and family. I have to admit, I have been amazed, too. I never thought I would have this much access to home. Internet and phone technology is in the middle of this access. But no matter what the advances in technology, it is some of the basic tools of the internet that have kept us going.

Internet Connection

Most base camps have an internet café available for the troops; some free, some pay. The cafés are put in tents, trailers, bombed out buildings…whatever space is available. Speed depends on the price. Speed in the free café is like dialup as there can be up to 25 computers sharing a satellite internet feed. The pay services are faster, but cost $1 per 10 minutes. Most of the time, you will gladly pay for the speed. The one real nice thing is that they try to accommodate those of us who brought our own laptops by having lines available to plug in. Now you can prep all emails in advance, plug in, send, download, unplug and be gone.

Email

Basic, simple email is a saving grace over here. From ordering supplies to communicating with another unit to sending a quick note to a friend or loved one, email is essential for the soldiers in Iraq. Even when dealing with units from another country, email can be the common language.

Instant Messenger Services

Never underestimate the power of Yahoo! Messenger or MSN Messenger. The tools these services offer for free are amazing. From chat to voice to webcams to white boards, these services are invaluable. We use IM quite a bit to talk to people on the other side of the country or the world. Even a voice chat is more efficient to use than AT&T’s phones.

Phones

AT&T has the contact to provide phone service at the camps, but the downsides make it tough to go through them. Lines are always long for the phones, major delays when speaking and overseas calls are quite expensive. The current camp I am in, however, has solved this issue. With the use of a VOIP phone, calls are as cheep as calling state-to-state. On the VOIP phones, I pick up the handset, press 9 and like magic; I am hearing a dial tone in Huntsville, AL. From there, my 4.9 cent Sam’s card is like gold. And while the AT&T calls sometimes have up to a 4 second delay; there is rarely more than a 1 second delay on the VOIP phones. Once again making the internet one of the most valuable assets in country.

Cell phones

While in Kuwait, I did buy a cell phone from a local service and it worked very well. Great connections, great sound. And with the help of the internet, my wife was able to find a relatively cheap calling card that could call Kuwait for only 24 cents per minute. The bad side to the cell phone was that it only worked until we got about 100 miles into Iraq. As you can imagine, the cell infrastructure of Iraq is not the most reliable or secure, so I don’t plan to get any service while I am here.

My current office has high speed access, and checking news sites and email is no different than back home on the cable modem. Very quick, very dependable. At times, I can have near real time conversations with people in the states via email. I know I have it better than most of the troops in Iraq, I am grateful for what I have. Thanks to the internet, life in Iraq is made much better.

Gadgetopia

Comments

  1. I just want to say that all of us in Buena Vista, VA are proud of the job our men and women in uniform are doing! We probably don’t get the real news but I was in the middle east (Turkey) from 1970-71 while I was in the Air Force and I know how hot and how different it is over there. No matter what happens in Irag all of the men and women serving our country can hold their head up high. We got rid of one of the most horrible men to live in the 20th century. Hitler and Saddam were two of a kind.

    Being a student of the Bible and a minister the middle east will play a big part of what is going to happen to the world according to Bible prophesy. The Muslim’s that are against America, our way of life and Isreal don’t just hate us, they hate the God we serve and our way of life. Because our God is a God of love and theirs is a God of hate! There is only one true God and only one real Savior But don’t dispare, if you are a Christian and a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you can read God’s holy word and find out what is going to happen to all those who reject God’s pardon thru His only son: Jesus Christ. I am not assamed to say I am a believer. Almost 32 years ago Christ set me free from a life that was headed for disaster but when I repented of my sins and let Jesus in my life what a difference he made in my life. I have 3 wonderful children. My youngest son spent 4 years in the Marine Corp. I now have a baby grand-daughter on the way and she will be born in June. Without you brave men and women fighting terrioism, they would kill all of us who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That’s the difference between what they believe and what we believe. Real Christians don’t force Christianty on anyone. We pray and ask them to make that decision themself.

    Please remember all of you that are fighting in Irag, we are praying daily for you at home in the Best Nation on Earth “The good ole USA”. But we need you to pray for your country too. There are those who would like to tear it down and make it a immoral, degenerated Godless country where there are no rules of decency and our consitution is just a memory of the past. But as long as we have men and women that love God and their county America will stand until our Lord comes and makes the Government His.

    God bless each and every one of you, our President and the USA!!!!!!!!!!!1

    Bob Presnell A soldier in the army of God pastor_bobee@hotmail.com

  2. I’m home right now on emergency leave. My mom is sick and it looks like something that can change from bad to worse any day. What I need is a cell phone that can receive and make calls to the US. Price not too much an issue. I’m currently in America but will return to Baghdad soon. Please help if can. Thanks.

  3. Hey Ike, Can’t be of much help trying to get a cell phone for the Bahgdad region. The phone I got in Kuwait was useless once I was 2 hours into Iraq. We were told that we could get new chips and have them work in Central Iraq…luckily, I did not drop any cash on those chips. The guys I know who did got taken. And since there is no concept of customer service over here, once you shell out the cash it is truely buyer beware. Maybe someone else out there has a more suggestions for you. Hope all goes well for your mom and good luck when you get over here.

  4. My girlfriend just arrived at her new “home” in Iraq at camp Anaconda. we have not been able to speak yet and I’ve received a couple short emails. It doesn’t sound like she has been able to find out the best way of calling home yet. Do you have any suggestions? Is there cell coverage in northern Iraq? Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  5. Chris…I have not made it up to Anaconda yet, but have heard it is one of the most connected camps around. I would imagine that AT&T have their phone banks up and running. As for cell coverage…I have stopped looking. There are many reports of cell phone conversations being intercepted, making your private conversations open to anyone. Good luck to your girlfriend.

  6. I will never cease to be amazed that Keith can have such casual conversations with the rest of the world from a war zone.

  7. Just wanted to first say thanks to all the servicemen and women risking their lifes in Iraq. & God bless the men and women who have died for freedom, may they find rest in Gods arms.
    Second, get my fiance on a flight outta there! I was wondering how a contractor can be bumped outta there for our wedding….he has been waiting for a week now and keeps getting canceled for the injured and deaths to take priority, and resonably so, I can understand and agree with that, but is there another altenate route at this present time and date that he can take? I love ya Boo and will wait till the end of time for your safe return home, Love always your choo

  8. Hi Keith, I’ve developed a video application that could allow troops to view a private webcam feed from home, without having to install any special software on their computer in iraq. We think it would be a great thing to offer to soldiers and their families, to feel closer to home. I’m just not sure what type of rules and restrictions that might be in place (i.e. tight firewalls, etc) that may prevent it from working. The head of our company is very interested in donating free accounts (and maybe even webcams to the soldiers in iraq, if allowed) but we aren’t sure how to proceed. Please let me know what you think about the idea! I can be reached at support (at) com20.com.

  9. Hello, I am looking for my cousin that is stationed at Camp Aniconda she is with the 457th BN/ 729th Tc from fresno California. her name is Spc. Patricia Castaneda Please if you know her or see her tell her to please please Call peggy as soon as she can. this is a very imporent message to her. I have Emailed her and called the red cross to give her a message to call home and now a week later i still have not heard from her. Thank You so very much. Peggy taylor

  10. Hey all, I was in Souther Iraq all through 2003 and had no cell phone coverage whatsoever. We used the sprint vans they had set-up, and the haji run internet cafe’s. Anyways, I am going back in Sept 05 and I’ll be up in Mosul. I’ve been looking for cell and internet service for when I go back. The word around my company is that T-Mobile has coverage in most of Iraq and I checked all the providers sites and T-Mobile does seem to be the only one that has coverage information on their site for Iraq. It looks like in the range of $4.99 min (ouch). I also looked into satellite phones and ISP’s but haven’t really made much sense out of it. As far as a cell service run by the middle east region, there is a company called AsiaCell (http://www.asiacell.com/) and they have TONS of coverage area in northern iraq compared to any other service currently out there. The website is a little sketchy due to the language translation and the cost and fees are VERY vague. This is all I have found so far. Good luck to all, and maybe I’ll run into one of ya when I get back there.
    -Sgt Waversak

  11. Was in Kuwait/Southern Iraq in 2003. Wife about to be near Baghdad for 16 months. Somebody has got to tell me that with all the soldiers over there, coming home and returning back to Iraq again, what are they using for cellphones? I used T-Mobile at 1.99 min (Intl. roaming) on Kuwait border into southern Iraq. Will it or ANYTHING else work near Baghdad? Somebody has got to know this. She will more than likely have daily internet use because of her job, so MSN, Yahoo messenger video conferencing will be our hope. -Frank Biondo

  12. I think they should add more phone lines. My husband has time for 1 call a day and then he is limited because of the lines to 15 mins. 15 minutes is nothing . By the time you start to get into a conversation it is time to say good-bye.If I have something important to tell him I cannot reach him , I have to wait for him to call? I ordered a t-Mobile phone now I have to ship that out and who knows if and when he will receive it. Besides which the last two times he got to the phone he forgets the address.If anyone knows Ed Holamn tell him to call Elissa and give her the address . God Bless You alll I will keep you in my prayers

  13. Ok for Cell phones if you want ot use cell phones that work your best bet if your in Baghdad is Iraqna,second best is Atheer. BUT fortunately Iraqna and Atheer have jsut recently joined so all of baghdad is well covered by these merging entities (they jsut merged near January5’th 2008 and it will take a bit before your service is recieved by both Iraqna and Atheer servicing towers) If you think you can do it Asia Cell is your last best bet but if you can get an Iraqna you should be golden if you are in Baghdad or any main city or near the main city. that is all of the mauin citys in Iraq pretty much. If you have a specific question or would like further information you may e-mail me at gettomagic@yahoo.com I will respond ASAP and with legit answers. I am at FOB Loyalty right now and I am also looking into buying a hpone I do not as of yet knwo much about their costs but I do know how their coverage is and works etc. etc. Proud to be here with everyone. PFC Greeley Antoine

  14. To my great wife who thinks I do not have time for her. Ill be home fo Xmas, Till then I hild your picture close to my heart, I love and miss you.. ED

  15. You can easily get a hajji phone for 30 dollar and a 10 dollar pre-paid card which has has lasted me 4 months since it only cost 2 cents a minute to call here and like 5 cents a min back to the states. You can get them at any of the hajji markets when you get on base. I call my husband on it almost everyday. The signal isn’t always good but it works. At&t will charge you close to 1000 a month. Been there done that Go with the Iraq phone once you get settled in over here.

  16. hi my husband is deploying to al asad iraq very soon and i havent been able to find a cell phone company that covers over in iraq… money is not an issue, if anyone knows any cell phone plans /company it would help. thanks

  17. I am a x expact searching for a pitcher of the rock that use to sit in front of the pizza hut across the street from the att cetner. Am willng to trade for small amount of money or resonable favor done here stateside. Plz return pic or any info to toledotimq@yahoo.com thanks you, stay tough and safe.

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