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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — SoftBank Telecom has installed extra equipment and is completing a system upgrade to better handle the increased load on its servers after hundreds of people signed up for services last week, a company official said Friday.

With Americable’s departure from Yokota, the base’s only remaining Internet provider has received a flood of new customers since Monday — more than 800 as of Friday afternoon, according to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service, for whom SoftBank Telecom is a vendor.

After announcing a promotional waiver of the $50 registration fee in early September, SoftBank Telecom processed about 100 new customers a week. But that figure skyrocketed to more than 200 a day last week ahead of an Oct. 25 deadline for the fee waiver. To ease the last-minute rush to its store in the Yokota Community Center, SoftBank Telecom extended the promotion through Tuesday.

Amid the crush of new customers, many users have complained about connection problems and sluggish speeds once they do get online.

Technicians and engineers are monitoring the situation closely and working on solutions “to make the transition as smooth as possible,” said Larry Salgado, the Yokota Exchange’s general manager.

“SoftBank Telecom is prepared to handle the increased customer loads,” said Gary Garner, marketing manager for the company’s military sales department.

“We are in the process of upgrading our backbone for Yokota customers. We have also added extra equipment to ensure service stability.

“Some of the base infrastructure is old, and connection can be unstable at times. Those switching from Americable’s service may not be aware of this, so some customers may notice differences between the SoftBank Telecom service and that provided by Americable.”

As its 10-year franchise agreement with the base officially ended, Americable shut down all paid cable television and broadband Internet services shortly after midnight Wednesday.

“Due to the huge number of people who’ve been subscribing to SoftBank Telecom, they’re in the process of getting everybody into the system,” Salgado said. “We just ask everybody to be patient. Their people have been working overtime.”

Details about SoftBank Telecom’s services can be found on its military Web site at www.mil.softbanktelecom.co.jp.

Common questions from new customers

Gary Garner, marketing manager for SoftBank Telecom’s military sales department, addressed some of the most common problems he’s heard from new customers:

USB cable vs. ethernet

“For customers wanting to use the USB cable, rather than an ethernet cable, a driver for the modem may need to be installed on the computer,” he said. “There is a disk supplied with the modem for this purpose. We recommend connecting via ethernet, rather than USB.”

Problems with phone use

SoftBank Telecom’s ADSL service goes through the base’s existing copper telephone line, Garner said, so customers need to use splitters to divide the voice and data signals. If these splitters are not correctly connected, there may be some effect on the quality of phone service.

Customers experiencing voice quality issues should check the splitter’s fitting, he said.

Where to turn for help

Garner said a packet of instructions for connecting to the Internet is available in English, and SoftBank Telecom’s customer service staff may be contacted locally at DSN 227-5288 for help.

— Vince Little

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