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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — At the stroke of midnight Wednesday, cable television on U.S. bases on Okinawa will enter a new phase.

That’s when Americable of Japan International hands over control of the system that serves some 11,000 customers in base housing areas.

Many of the same people who worked for Americable, the company that brought cable Internet service to Okinawa bases 10 years ago, will stay on as employees of Mediatti Communications, Inc., the Tokyo-based company that was awarded a 15-year franchise by the 18th Contracting Squadron on Kadena Air Base.

“On April 15, Americable will be leaving Okinawa after 10 years of serving the military,” Anthony Crutcher, chief operating officer for Americable’s Far East Operations, wrote in a farewell note to customers. “Your new cable TV provider will be Mediatti Communications, who will offer a free tier of cable television service and high-speed Internet service.

The business phone numbers and office locations will remain the same, Mediatti has announced. The free tier of services mentioned by Crutcher will be channels provided by the American Forces Network and commanders’ channels. They will be available as a special “military tier” after the 90-day upgrade period, according to Mediatti’s listing of “Frequently Asked Questions” on the Marine Corps Community Service’s Web site at www.okinawa.usmc-mccs.org/cable/.

The company announced it will provide the military tier and two additional tiers offering a variety of programming, some of it new to the Okinawa cable network. Premium movie channels, including Showtime and HBO, also will be offered. About 70 channels eventually will be offered, a Mediatti spokesman said.

High-speed cable Internet will be the biggest addition. The company is promising connections six to 10 times faster than regular dial-up services. A Mediatti spokesman said a schedule would be determined soon after the hand-over to phase in the Internet service.

The basic monthly fee will be about $47.90, with premium channels extra and Internet costing an additional $39.95, Mediatti has said. However, the company will offer discounts to customers paying a year in advance, which would bring the basic channel package and Internet service to about $55 per month.

The discounts will be 15 percent off for payments made six months in advance and 35 percent off for an advance payment for a year.

Currently, Americable’s basic 22-channel package is $29.95 and the extended 62-channel package costs $39.95 per month.

One new Mediatti feature will be the addition of set-top cable boxes in the home, which will enable the company to make changes remotely to the channel offerings. The boxes will eliminate the need for extra wiring or boxes for televisions in other rooms of the home.

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