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Misawa pioneers high-speed Internet connectivity

MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Life is speeding up for folks accessing the Internet from home computers here.

Misawa is the first Air Force base in the Pacific to get high-speed Internet connectivity using ADSL.

That’s techno-speak for “asymmetric digital subscriber line,” equipment that transmits bits of information 10 times faster than conventional 56K modems.

JENS Corp., provider of Internet services to AT&T, which has a contract with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, offers Internet services to Pacific region installations including Yokota Air Base and Camp Zama on mainland Japan and Kadena Air Base on Okinawa.

A JENS spokeswoman said Misawa’s Personal Telecommunications Center has registered hundreds of customers in the past two weeks.

“More than 500 Misawa customers have signed up to get ADSL,” said Janet Hasegawa. “Our price is competitive with other Internet providers in Japan and the United States.”

New customers pay $50 to sign up for Internet service, while those already signed up with JENS pay $30. Then, all customers pay $59.95 monthly for the ADSL service.

“There has been a big demand for the service because computer users are not too happy with normal dial-up speeds,” said Staff Sgt. Damian Pierson, Misawa’s ADSL project officer.

ADSL promises no dial-up delays or busy signals. What used to take minutes or hours to download will take just seconds or minutes. For instance, a 2-megabyte video clip that takes about 4 minutes, 53 seconds to download while using a 56K modem takes about 11 seconds using ADSL technology.

That enhances downloading graphics-heavy files, large documents, software, photos and e-mail attachments.

ADSL is especially suitable for real-time interactive multimedia, online gaming, broadcast-quality video, distance learning and video-on-demand.

ADSL modems use digital-coding techniques to squeeze up to 99 percent more capacity out of a phone line without interfering with regular phone service.

That means users could be talking simultaneously on the phone or sending a fax while surfing the World Wide Web.

To make that happen, a splitter is required to separate computer data from telephone voice traffic. Hasegawa said JENS provides one splitter to each customer. Customers must pay for additional splitters for other telephones in a home.

Air Force officials at Misawa said they are looking at possibly offering additional splitters through the base Self Help store in the future.

Hasegawa said she could not provide a cost estimate for ADSL equipment JENS has installed on the base. “It’s been quite a large investment in back-end equipment,” she said. “We were able to get ADSL to Misawa first because of the base’s excellent support.”

Pierson added, “We found space in Building 512 to house the equipment and a lot of fiber optic cable was already installed on the base.”

Base civil engineering specialists worked to provide additional power requirements to support installation of ADSL equipment owned by JENS.

But in part because of the cost of providing the service to residents in the base’s North area, ADSL service is being offered only to those living on main base.

“We did a cost estimate to get additional fiber-optic cable to the North area, and it came to about $117,000,” Pierson said. “JENS kind of cringed at that; they didn’t think they could recoup that cost.” He said a search of the base’s existing cable revealed fiber-optics used by the 3rd Space Surveillance Squadron, which recently vacated Misawa.

“That freed up a lot of fiber that could eventually provide access to the North area,” he said. “No decision has been made yet.”

Hasegawa said JENS eventually will offer ADSL service to customers at Yokota, Zama and Kadena, but startup dates are unknown.


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