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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — Mediatti Broadband Communications has been given a deadline extension for providing high-speed cable Internet to its military customers.

The company, which took over cable television operations from Americable International of Japan on April 15, anticipated it would be able to offer high-speed Internet service to all its customers within 90 days. But it ran into snags because of unforeseen problems with the infrastructure of the cable system serving the bases, stated Chip Steitz, 18th Wing public affairs spokesman, in a written reply to Stripes queries.

The 18th Contracting Squadron signed a contract with Mediatti in November. The Air Force, which handles all family military housing on Okinawa, also handles the cable television contract.

“The original time limit established in the contract was 15 July,” Steitz wrote of the deadline for high-speed cable internet. “During the phase-in period Mediatti encountered many difficulties with the existing cable infrastructure.”

Steitz wrote that those unexpected problems were the main reason Mediatti was unable to complete the cable and Internet installation on time.

“To receive a contract extension to complete the installation, Mediatti had to provide additional benefits to the government,” Steitz stated. “For those benefits, the contract was extended to August 31.”

The benefits included providing premium movie channels and other channels added to the Mediatti line-up free to all subscribers until converter boxes are installed in every home, Steitz stated.

“The company has really done its best to make the conversions,” Steitz said in a telephone interview. “When you think about the problems you have in just getting necessary technical parts out here, they’ve been very cooperative in working with us and the customers.”

The conversion boxes allow Mediatti to filter channels depending on the type of service a customer desires. Mediatti is offering a three-tier system for television service.

The first is a free military tier including the American Forces Network, news, base and school information, and local Japanese channels. The second tier adds 11 channels and costs $34.50 per month. The third tier offers a full 60-channel package for $47.90 per month.

Mediatti also offers HBO, Showtime and Cinemax.

Customers subscribing to cable Internet — which costs $39.95 per month — get discounts for taking a combination package. Cable and Internet for the basic pay tier will be $59.50 a month, a savings of $14.95. The full package (minus movie channels) would cost $75.90 per month, an $11.95 discount.

Customers also can get a 15 percent discount for paying six months in advance and a 35 percent discount for paying a year in advance. Therefore, customers who signed up for the full package (minus movie channels), and pay for a full year’s service in advance, would pay about $49.34 per month or about $592 per year.

“Mediatti encountered some technical difficulties in deploying the ... boxes,” Steitz said. “These boxes make it possible for Mediatti to scramble channels, upgrade and downgrade services. The difficulties they were encountering have been resolved and new boxes are being installed.

“Until all the boxes are installed, everyone that has some type of cable service will be receiving all channels,” he said. “For example, beginning July 23rd, every cable customer will receive HBO and all of the new programming for free until all of the set-top boxes are installed.

“When you look at it, Mediatti is providing a pretty good service for the money,” Steitz said. “Mediatti is offering better quality programming.”

He said the company’s recorded offerings from channels in the States will be delayed for just a week, as opposed to the two-week delay Americable offered. And they will be recorded on high-quality DVDs instead of VHS tapes.

“That plus the additional channels, a free military tier, combination packages and huge discounts for advance payment makes it less expensive than the previous contractor,” Steitz said. “Representatives from Mediatti Communications have been very responsive in trying to address the concerns from customers and improve their processes in order to provide us with world class service.”

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