Edison Carter, live from Iraq

Pentagon to Offer Combat Videophones

FORT DIX, N.J. (AP) -- The Pentagon plans to equip public affairs officers with two-way satellite video transmitters to provide on-the-spot visuals from combat zones that it says could counter hostile propaganda. The $27,000 Austrian-made videophone system will allow military field commanders to hold "near real-time" videoconferences with journalists who may be sitting anywhere on the planet, said Lt. Col. David Lamp, a spokesman for the U.S. Joint Forces Command.

[...] It's a rugged briefcase that cradles a laptop computer with video-editing and recording capacity and includes a built-in camera, keyboard and a pair of external collapsable satellite dish antennas. Television networks began using such equipment extensively in the past year for live reports that previously required bulky equipment.

[...] Using both antennas, Lamp said the device can send and receive live video transmissions over two simultaneous channels, at speeds of 128 kilobits per second -- about twice as fast as the videophones used in Afghanistan by television correspondents. The Scotty device uses satellite communications service of Inmarsat.

(I think this is it: www.msua.org)

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4 Responses:

  1. rasp_utin says:

    Didn't we see that gadget back in James Bond's "Never Say Never Again?"

  2. yanis says:

    i wonder why should it be *that* expensive. i think they could put it together using consumer grade parts for $5,000 a piece including the *rugged* (always a scam) components.

    • jwz says:

      Yeah, it would totally have been free, if only they used Linux!

      • yanis says:

        i think one can buy commercially available equipment (laptops, sat phones etc.) and have that videoconferencing set up for way less than $28,000

        i have no emotions about Linux at all. I am not a hacker or an opensource fan.