ARLINGTON, Va. — Some deployed troops unable to hold their newborns at least will be able to glimpse a photo or two — or perhaps share photographs of the holidays, their children’s football games and chitchat with loved ones back home.

The Chicago-based Hostway Corporation, a Web hosting and managed Internet service provider, is donating one year’s free Web hosting service to the first 2,500 U.S. military personnel and their families who register online for the program at

Participants can post photographs and family messages to a centrally hosted Web site and view it at any time, anywhere.

“It’s Christmas, the holiday season, and we wanted to do something positive and something nice for the troops to say thank you,” said John Lee, director of marketing.

“All that’s required is the family have an Internet domain name such as,” Lee said.

Troops accepting the free service, which Hostway valued at roughly $200, is all right with Uncle Sam. However, all participants will have to pay the annual $6.95 domain name registration charge.

Paul Battaglia, with the public relations firm StrongForce Group, said he was not sure if Hostway would extend the free service beyond one year.

“That offer is legitimate under government ethics because it’s available to all members of the military, regardless of where they are serving,” said Air Force Maj. Michael Shavers, a Pentagon spokesman who had posed the question to the Pentagon’s Office of General Counsel.

Hostway gives the participants a user-friendly Windows-based program.

The offer is available to servicemembers worldwide, including those in Iraq and Afghanistan, said Renato Graziano, also with StrongForce.

“This holiday season, with more servicemen and women fighting overseas than in many years, military families are finding it harder than ever to stay in touch with one another.

“And while technology obviously plays a key role in making our armed forces the most effective in the world, it can also help fathers and mothers, sons and daughters — families in general — communicate over political and geographic boundaries that were impossible, say, in the Gulf War conflict little more than a decade ago,” Graziano said.

Troops will have to self-censor the information shared on the sites, much like they do with the letters they send home, Lee said. The Web pages may not be used for any commercial gain, he said.

Just about all troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan have some type of access to the Internet, said Marine Corps Capt. David Romley, a Pentagon spokesman.

“Some have much more ready access to the Internet, but they all have it,” Romley said. “And the frequency differs according to job specialties.

“In Afghanistan, conditions are much more austere, and the regularity with which they have access to the Internet is going to be less frequent,” he said.

Each registered domain is allotted 400 megabytes of disc space, 20 gigabytes of traffic or bandwidth that lets computers talk to one another, and 30 e-mail accounts.

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