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  • Companies Join Forces To Connect Troops
Oct 2003
COSTA MESA, Calif., Oct. 17 -- Last August, Edward Bukstel, vice president of SkyFrames -- a satellite broadband Internet service provider based in Costa Mesa, Calif. -- received an e-mail from a US military unit based in Iraq that was trying to find a better way to communicate with people at home.

"A major told me that e-mails just don't get the job done when you are a mom or dad over here trying to talk with your children under five years of age at home," Bukstel said.

As a result, SkyFrames is now leading a grassroots effort to enable US troops in Iraq to call home for the holidays, via VoIP, wireless and satellite communications.

It isn't an easy task -- the equipment list includes everything from cable connectors and special pliers to satellite dishes -- but the company hopes all systems are "go" before Thanksgiving.

Fortunately, it has help. SkyFrames had many discussions with the Dept. of Defense and military personnel about what was needed in order to accomplish this tasks. Word got around, and several organizations contacted SkyFrames to offer support and donations. So far The Broadband Wireless Exchange and companies like AeroTech, PacWireless, Solomon Technology and Vonage are part of the effort.

Scott Parsons, CEO of Pacific Wireless, was the first to call. "He sent over a brochure of products and asked how Pacific Wireless could help," said Bukstel.

Jeffrey A. Citron, chairman and CEO of Vonage, said, "Our troops in Iraq have a dire need to communicate with their friends and family here in the US and have personally been spending astronomical amounts of money to rarely use satellite phones Many of the families in our unit only hear from loved ones once a month. This is mainly due to the limited availability of satellite phones and the Internet. They currently have Internet access but stress the fact that it is 'slower than dial-up.'"

Bob Hoskins, CEO of The Broadband Wireless Exchange, said, "No single company can make this a reality. It has to be a group effort from the government agencies, broadband, wireless and telecommunications industries. This effort is being made to thank our troops for their commitment."

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