NAPLES, Italy — Navy personnel in Europe can apply for free American Forces Network decoders even if they have already bought one.

The Navy Region Europe public affairs office, which posted its e-mail address for queries about the decoder boxes, has been asked about that often since the command announced in December it will supply free AFN decoders and satellite installation services for Europe-based sailors.

It is one of several frequently asked questions about the program as it gets under way. Responses to others include:

While you can apply for a free decoder even if you already bought one, you can’t have more than one free decoder through the Navy Exchange.Yes, you have to sign up, in person, for the program at local housing offices.No, you won’t be reimbursed for the nearly $500 spent on the purchased decoders. No, you can’t sell the one you bought to the housing office.And no, a free decoder won’t be supplied for office use.“Preparations for the Navy Europe regional distribution of free American Forces Network decoders are in full swing, with delivery and installation of the first [new] units to begin in March,” command spokesman Chief Petty Officer John Musser said.

Free service began this month for the 722 sailors and families who leased their decoders through NEX.

Beginning Wednesday, those who don’t have a leased AFN decoder and want a free one can sign up at their local housing offices. The available decoders then will be distributed on a first-come basis beginning in March, Jose Mascarenhas, regional housing program director, has said.

Those signing up for the program will have to have a form letter, provided by local housing offices and signed by landlords, before officials can make appointments with contractors for the installation of satellite dishes, Musser said.

“The installation of the receiver dish, various brackets and cables involves hardware that needs to be mounted on the outside of the house. The landlord’s signature is merely getting his or her permission,” he said.

Between March and September, as new decoders arrive, those who qualify will be contacted for appointments to have the satellite dishes installed and the decoders hooked up.

Commander, Navy Region Europe has budgeted $3.3 million to buy between 7,000 and 8,000 decoders and pay for off-base installation.

In order to qualify for a free AFN decoder, military or civilian members must be on permanent change of station orders to a CNRE location, have a transportation agreement entitling them to household goods, must have negotiated their lease for off-base housing through their local housing office, and have at least six months left on their current orders at the time of installation, Musser said.

The decoders, made by Scientific Atlanta, will give viewers access to AFN Prime Pacific, AFN Prime Atlantic, AFN Prime Korea, AFN News, AFN Sports, AFN Spectrum, Pentagon Channel, AFN Family and AFN Movie.

Additional questions on obtaining decoders can be sent by e-mail to

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