In Iron Man 3, Tony Stark needs bandwidth and asks the news van operator to recalibrate the ISDN on the van. We all know that ISDN services are only good over traditional PSTN. It has nothing to do with mobile networks.

News Van Operator Recalibrating ISDN

We also know that ISDN is very slow(about 128kbit/s) as compared to today's transmission rates.


  • Why did Tony Stark ask to recalibrate the useless ISDN?
  • Is that a glitch?
  • 6
    Or maybe he didn't need any help and wanted to get the tech out of his way
    – The Fallen
    Aug 30, 2013 at 18:16
  • 1
    It was a video truck, and video equipment frequently used H.320 for video transport before the H.323/SIP became common for transmitting over IP on a wired connection. H.320 was ISDN based. It could be some writer was stuck in the past, and knew something about ISDN being used for video, and that was enough to add it to the script.
    – Zoredache
    Sep 1, 2013 at 7:27
  • 5
    – Lodewijk
    Jul 2, 2014 at 0:18
  • 3
    Hmm. Yes. We all know. I definitely knew, but why don't you explain it to me so I can make sure you know.
    – user31178
    Jan 13, 2015 at 4:39
  • 3
    He needed to be able to download some RAM to create a GUI using Visual Basic, so he could send an internet with the network backdoor.
    – KSmarts
    Jan 13, 2015 at 16:12

2 Answers 2


It sounds like a classic example of what TVTropes (Warning! Don't click -- it will eat half your day.) calls TechnoBabble. TechnoBabble is how hurried writers move the plot forward with science-y buzzwords, rather than

  1. Trying to seriously justify something that's probably impossible
  2. Slowing down the plot with a big lump of exposition.

And it might also be an allusion to the traditionally sloppy way comic books have used science and technology.

  • 15
    "Reverse the polarity"
    – Monty129
    Aug 30, 2013 at 16:51

There are different forms of ISDN, including rate interfaces that allow up to 1.92 Mbps, and ISDN via satellites are used to link to field reporters by the BBC and other broadcasters. Additionally, ISDN's reliability and latency is still yet to be matched by packet switched alternatives.

ISDN and broadcast industry

ISDN is used heavily by the broadcast industry as a reliable way of switching low latency, high quality, long distance audio circuits. In conjunction with an appropriate codec using MPEG or various manufacturers proprietary algorithms, an ISDN BRI can be used to send stereo bi-directional audio coded at 128 kbit/s with 20 Hz – 20 kHz audio bandwidth, although commonly the G.722 algorithm is used with a single 64 kbit/s B channel to send much lower latency mono audio at the expense of audio quality. Where very high quality audio is required multiple ISDN BRIs can be used in parallel to provide a higher bandwidth circuit switched connection. BBC Radio 3 commonly makes use of three ISDN BRIs to carry 320 kbit/s audio stream for live outside broadcasts. ISDN BRI services are used to link remote studios, sports grounds and outside broadcasts into the main broadcast studio. ISDN via satellite is used by field reporters around the world. It's also common to use ISDN for the return audio links to remote satellite broadcast vehicles.

In many countries, such as the UK and Australia, ISDN has displaced the older technology of equalised analogue landlines, with these circuits being phased out by telecommunications providers. IP based streaming codecs are starting to gain a foothold in the broadcast sector, using broadband internet to connect remote studios. However reliability and latency is crucially important for broadcasters and the quality of service offered by ISDN has not yet been matched by packet switched alternatives.

  • 1
    This does not explain what the recalibration is (or why he has to be on top of the van for it), nor why he had to do it.
    – Lodewijk
    Jul 2, 2014 at 2:14

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