View Full Version : Program offers families access to troops in Iraq

01-17-07, 10:33 AM
Press Release
Program offers families access to troops in Iraq

The free 24-hour service gives loved ones a chance to communicate with kin

Date Released: 01/17/2007
BY MATT MANOCHIO DAILY RECORD Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Post Comment Shirley Jerome's son, Sam, a corporal with the U.S. Marines, is serving his second tour of duty in Iraq right now, northwest of Baghdad.

The Dover resident was able to communicate with her 26-year-old son frequently via email during his first tour, but his second tour has him in a less-developed region where emailing is more difficult, and calling home is even harder.

So to be able to actually see him via streaming live video would be a godsend, she said.

That's what a New York-based company called Instantstream Multimedia Communications, Inc., is trying to do.

The company is providing free 24-hour, web-based video and conferencing services to U.S., U.N. and International military members to express the company's gratitude to the men and women of the armed services.

"I think that's wonderful,"Jerome said, adding that her son is due home in February, but that she wants to make sure his fellow Marines know about the offer.

"I know it's great for them to get mail and letters," she said. "It's always wonderful for the family back home to hear from them because you worry about them constantly. So I think that's a wonderful idea."

Instantstream CEO Mike Daly said his company started the program a few days before this past Christmas.

"We thought it was something worthwhile for our troops," he said in a recent phone interview.

Instantstream is a software provider focused on delivering the latest in ASP Global interactive and collaborative real-time multimedia communications over traditional switch-based systems, Internet\IP and wireless WIFI-3G devices.

Daly said that all someone needs is a lap top, video camera or cell phone that can handle streaming video, and a head set. They must first register on the company's website, www.instantstream.com, and they're then emailed a link to verify it's them. The family or military member then must pick an email and password they're going to use, and when they'd like to use the service.

"It's all live," he said. "We do have two services. We do live and pre-record(ed)."

There are only about 250 people using this service so far, and Daly admittedly wants to get the word out.

"We're surprised by that," he said of the current low number. "We called a number of military and support groups, put it in press and local magazines. We're getting two or three new people a day."

Daly said his company has donated web cameras to military members who need them, and said the service is available worldwide. He said international phone calls can be expensive and he wants to help cut back on the financial burden that causes for some families.

New Jersey military families with loved ones overseas who were interviewed for this article said they hadn't heard of this service but were curious to try it.

"I'd try it with our webcams,"Tracey Koast, a Marlton resident who grew up in Denville, said via email. She said her husband, U.S. Army Maj. Scott Koast, currently is deployed in Iraq.

"There's no cell service over there -- unless you pay a hefty amount for one," she wrote.

She said the "time difference between the United States and Middle East makes it difficult to schedule a time when everyone is awake and available, making the few moments you get that much more special.

"To be able to see them and not just hear their voice is an even better way to connect with loved ones who are away from home," she wrote.

Monica Nieves, of West Orange, said her brother, Rafael X. Gonzalez, 23, is a specialist in the Army Reserves based in Mosul.

"That would be awesome,"she said about the possibility of seeing and speaking to him live. "I was actually writing to Rachel Ray and other talk show hosts to see if there was something we could do to talk to him live."

Nieves said she regularly emails her brother once or twice a week, but phone calls are less frequent, maybe once a month.

"Since he does transportation he's all over the country," she said of why talking with him is difficult.

"We'd love to do a live video just to see him, that would be fabulous," she said

About Instantstream
Streamphone is a next generation video call / conferencing solution. Our customers travel the world with a Streamphone Ready Smartphone & make video calls from any country in the world. Unlike other video conferencing & telecom video call services, Instantstream cost less than a cell call, its compliable will all hardware, 526 million people are Streamphone Ready today! Streamphone is providing services (2 cents a minute) in China, Africa, USA, Australia, Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia, India, Bangladesh, Europe, South America.