Bell: Preserving VoIP for troops in South Korea a top priority
July 12, 2006
CAMP RED CLOUD, South Korea — Fighting to preserve voice over Internet protocol phone service, or VoIP, is one of U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. B.B. Bell’s top priorities for servicemembers’ quality of life, the general said Monday while touring Camp Red Cloud.
While discussing the issue with Area I commanders and later with soldiers and airmen, Bell said emphatically that the only thing that would stop him from pushing the issue was his deathbed.
Commanders told Bell that services enabling long distance phone calls over high-speed Internet connections had become popular with many Area I soldiers looking for an affordable alternative to phone cards when calling home.
They added that while some companies charge monthly or per phone call, some servicemembers were locked into service contracts with U.S.-based phone companies.
“Well, don’t have them turn in their systems yet,” Bell said.
Soldiers and airmen brought up the same issue during a sit-down chat at the Community Activity Center.
“We’re looking to find a way around cancellation of service,” Bell said. “Hopefully, servicemembers can continue to take advantage of this.”
Three of the major Internet service providers in South Korea had moved to ban U.S.-based VoIP companies that are not in compliance with the country’s Telecommunications Business Act. But the South Korean Ministry of Information and Communications and Dacom, the ISP that serves about 12,000 U.S. military customers, agreed to a request from USFK to delay a block of the service.
USFK is negotiating with the South Korean government, but there is no timetable set for a resolution, Bell said.
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