Skype or alternative to contact DH in Afghanistan

Discussion in 'United We Stand' started by CruiserMom, Jul 7, 2010.

  1. CruiserMom

    CruiserMom Actually, a member since 2004

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    My DH is depoying to Afghanistan in November. We purchased 2 new laptops, with the plan that he could take one with him and we could Skype to stay in contact. However, we are playing with Skype here and often his audio cuts in and out. I googled this and apparently this is a common problem without a clear solution.

    My question is, can anyone recommend good alternatives to Skype? I don't even mind paying something if I'm fairly certain it will work so we can stay in touch while he is away.
     
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  3. DisneyFed

    DisneyFed DIS Veteran

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    I'm assuming he'll have internet in his room...I do, but I'm in Iraq. Not sure what AF has...

    That being said, I have a Magic Jack which works awesome (as long as the internet is not having trouble)...just like a regular telephone to call home on!!!

    I keep skype as a back up because when the internet is having issues, it requires less bandwidth and works better, but the Magic Jack has worked really well for me!!

    DF
     
  4. Stephanie218

    Stephanie218 DIS Veteran

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    Communication in Afghanistan has been pretty terrible for us so far. There's no way we'll be able to Skype the entire deployment - I'm friends with a bunch of CommO's wives and even they have only been able to Skype maybe once, and most of the time the connection went down during it. I'm not sure what base your husband is headed to, but just wanted to let you know not to get your hopes up.
     
  5. CruiserMom

    CruiserMom Actually, a member since 2004

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    OK, so what is the best way to keep in touch? I know our current cell phones will not work internationally. This overseas stuff is new to me; should we purchase special cell phones? Or a calling card of some sort? Or will we be able to rely on email? I'm sure he will have internet of some sort, his job is information gathering.
     
  6. My sister's princess

    My sister's princess <font color=green>These boards have grimmer police

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    We have been using international calling cards, and good old snail mail. I have been writing to him 5-6 times a week.

    DH doesn't have consistent access have phones or internet, so for us the phone calls are a real treat, and the internet even more so!

    One of the families in our unit has cell phones set up, and their bill is running upwards of $600 a month. I don't know how or when they use the, or who they have them through. When we asked Verizon about it I think they told u $4 a min.

    Like PPs have said, all kinda depends on where he ends up.
     
  7. DisneyFed

    DisneyFed DIS Veteran

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    One of my guys who's there has a local cell phone he got on the ground....he uses Cards to replace the minutes.

    He says calling is expensive, but he says texting is pretty reasonable...

    It really is location location location out there..
     
  8. Stephanie218

    Stephanie218 DIS Veteran

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    He is able to use a phone card to call home about every 10 days/2 weeks-ish. I think the longest we've gone has been 3 weeks. He used to be able to call through the DSN lines through our home state, but the base there is much smaller and didn't have an operator at most of the times he was trying to call - so he's just resorted to paying for phonecards now.

    I can usually get emails every other day or so, but it depends on when they shut down communication. That was happening quite often at the beginning of the deployment, but hasn't been as often lately. It really does depend on location, and even the individual command. My husband can usually get on Gmail before 8 AM or after 10 PM, but not all can. We also were able to Gchat (like AIM, it's just a messaging system) the first few weeks, but they disabled that option for the base. That was a big let-down for me, since it was a nice alternative to talking on the phone. It's so frustrating getting an email now and knowing he is on the other side of the computer, but not being able to communicate live with him.
     
  9. becky11

    becky11 Mouseketeer

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    If DH is in the Air Force or Army, you should be able to use the chat program within their official portal page (for AF, it's www.my.af.mil). The sponsor (military member) can set you up with a "Friends and Family" account and you can use the chat program. They should always have access to the .mil site when at work, but of course, whether they can chat while at work is up to their leadership. :)

    The only time that particular chat program should be down is if they cut off all outside access, usually done for OPSEC reasons or because of a death affecting the camp/base that they have to wait until next of kin is notified.
     
  10. samshane

    samshane DIS Veteran

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    My Dh just returned from a 12+ month deployment to Iraq. We barely talked on the phone... used skype one time/week (sometimes every 2 weeks), but used e-mail daily. The time difference was the hardest. It was 10 or 11 hours (depending on daylight savings). We also used IM when we could - that was probably 1-2 times/week.

    At first i thought I would want to contact him all the time - then I realized I didn't want that. A e-mail every 1-2 days is what we ended up mostly doing in the end.

    For the most part I was really happy with the skype reception to Iraq. It was choppy sometimes, but I could always hear him. Don't know how it is with Afghanistan though. Best of luck to you!
     
  11. disneywatcher

    disneywatcher DIS Veteran

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    When my DH was deployed last year, we used MSN/Yahoo to vidoe chat once in a while, it wasn't an every day thing. For the most part we emailed and he occasionally called with a free calling card that was given to him. I think he said they got one a month. We sent him care packages and snail mail as well.
    Our unit also set up video conferance days in the "Yellow Ribbon Room" we just had to go in and tell them the time slot we wanted (I think it was 30 min a slot) and they would have the service member there waiting to video conference with their families.
     
  12. sbeaulieu

    sbeaulieu Mouseketeer

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    Hi, I have the experience from both ends...being deployed to Iraq and being the spouse back in the states.

    Google Chat also works...and if the video feed is too choppy and acting up, just turn that off and use the audio only. That way you can still talk. As everyone is saying, it all depends on what your DH's job and location is. I talked to my DH every day during his last 13 month deployment to Iraq. He was also able to e-mail several times a day. If he is an intel guy I would imagine he is going to have decent computer access...but probably to a secure computer most of the time, which you can't send personal e-mails on. But bringing a personal lap top should definitely help.

    We never managed to get the video to work well...which sucked b/c we had a newborn at the time.

    Good luck!
     
  13. MattsPrincess

    MattsPrincess A Most Peculiar Mademoiselle

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    We used Yahoo Messenger video chat. We started out with Skype, but found Yahoo to be MUCH more reliable.
     
  14. jsmith

    jsmith <font color=darkorchid>And now I am off to get my

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    this is an old thread but-your best bets for chat/video chat will be MSN and google talk-they are lower bandwidth and work better with the often times lousy sattelite connections the guys have over there. Realistically-in Afghanistan -they arent going to always have internet access-pen and paper are going to be your best option.
     
  15. Silent1CB

    Silent1CB DIS Veteran

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    I've been successful with Facebook chat with a friend currently in Afghanistan. Not face-to-face, I know, but at least it was live & not waiting for a reply.

    Only problem of course is catching him at the moment he's on FB.
     
  16. CruiserMom

    CruiserMom Actually, a member since 2004

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    OP here...we are having much more success with Google Video chat. It has worked perfectly so far, although he is still in the US with a fast internet connection. So we will use that if at possible, but also use email.

    Thanks for all the replies!:thumbsup2
     
  17. AndyRayTaylor

    AndyRayTaylor Earning My Ears

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    Slow internet is a real problem with Skype

    The best options I have found are:

    Vsee.com- very similar to skype but works with half the bandwidth

    as with Skype, best to turn off your webcam after the first few seconds


    mumble.com - kids who play online games can tell you about this, and why it´s better than the alternatives on slow connections - it may work better on an iphone or other smartphone than on a PC


    To stop that annoying delay, kids can also show you how to switch the priority of skype, vsee or mumble to realtime

    All the best

    Ray
    BigEmpathy.com
     

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