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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Service upgrades in the past three months have gone a long way to improve quality and reliability of the Allied Telesis telecommunications package at Yokota, its chief executive officer said.

"We’ve gone from fighting core-service delivery issues to solving minor fixes and customer-related problems," Keith Southard said during a recent base visit. "The team here has made significant strides since the dark days in September."

In September, Allied was plagued with problems with its former voice-over-Internet-protocol carrier, which resulted in glitches with incoming telephone calls from North America.

"I’m pretty happy today with where we are," Southard said, but "there is still a lot of work in front of us. It never stops."

In the last month, Allied has installed a new core Internet router with much higher capacity to improve speeds around base, Southard said.

He said this month’s shift of prime-time U.S. broadcasts on 33 premium cable channels to evening hours at Yokota is complete. But getting the electronic program guide online through Tribune Media has been troublesome.

"It’s more complicated than it appears, because Allied receives feeds from all over the U.S.," Southard said. "It’s not a simple process to get all those times synchronized. "

He said Allied is negotiating with Showtime and Starz to bring in a premium movie network, but it’s expected to be a long process. Discussions also were held with HBO, but the network has been reluctant to even conduct a legal review to determine whether it can grant redistribution rights on a military base in Japan.

Most large networks also have been apprehensive due to Yokota’s relatively small population and subscriber base, he added.

"It’s a very lengthy process just to bring them to the negotiating table. You’ve got to get past a roomful of attorneys first," Southard said. "Content rights have gotten so complicated and so difficult, because everyone is concerned about piracy and protection of intellectual property.

"But I’ve been told by some larger networks you need a 10,000-subscriber minimum. It’s hard to get them to even engage."

The company’s recent service upgrades have received mixed reviews from some Yokota customers.

Staff Sgt. Tyson Schoenmoser said he’s pleased about the premium channel programming being moved to evening hours.

"For a regular person who works 9 to 5 or 8 to 4, it was nothing but infomercials on the upper channels at night," he said. "It’s definitely better to have the time shifts."

Janel Otto, a Yokota spouse, said her family hasn’t noticed a big difference on television, but they still experience sporadic Internet outages and bad telephone connections.

"I’m not sure if it’s my computer or an Allied issue, but there are certain days when I can’t click onto certain Web sites," she said. "And we’re still having issues with the phone. Sometimes, it sounds like I’m talking in a can. I get the echo back."

Otto says the periodic customer surveys conducted by Allied and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service have been constructive. "It’s not like they’re not trying," she added.

Allied Telesis wants customer input before making changes

Allied Telesis wants customer input before making changes

Allied Telesis is considering improving its e-mail service for Yokota customers, but wants customer input on proposed changes.

The company said in an e-mail to customers Wednesday that it would like to implement an enhanced service in February.


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