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CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Mediatti Broadband Communications this week issued an apology to its Okinawa customers for failing to meet its 90-day goal of providing high-speed cable Internet service to all Okinawan U.S. military bases.

In the same announcement, the company that took over the bases’ cable television service April 15 from Americable International of Japan, announced an addition of a dozen new channels available and a rate increase.

The rate increase was expected. John Hadsell, general manager of Mediatti’s Okinawa operation, said the company promised not to raise the rates when it took over the system until the new channels were available.

“They are being added July 31,” he said.

Among the new channels are Bravo, HBO, Cinemax, USA, TNT, Home and Garden, Country Music Television and the Sci-Fi Channel.

The new fee system is based on three tiers. There is no charge for the military tier, which includes American Forces Network programming, commanders’ channels, school channels, Japanese channels, CNN and BBC World.

Tier 1 at $34.50 per month starting Aug. 1, adds 11 channels. That’s an increase of $4.55 from the old rate structure.

The “extended basic” or tier 2 package, which includes most of the old lineup plus the new options will cost $47.90 per month, an increase of $7.95 for the full 60-channel package.

Premium movie channels rates are also going up. Under the old plan, Showtime and The Movie Channel cost a subscriber an additional $19.55 per month. Mediatti, now offers Showtime, HBO and Cinemax, The Movie Channel was dropped from the lineup. The rate for two movie channels is $22.50 and $30.50 for the full movie package.

Customers subscribing to cable Internet service — which costs $39.95 per month — get discounts for taking a combination package. Cable and Internet for “Tier 1” 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 will also get a 15 percent discount for paying six months in advance and a 35 percent discount for paying a year in advance.

“MBC apologizes for the delay in providing Internet services,” the company said at the bottom of a full-page ad in Stars and Stripes on Thursday announcing the new channel line-up.

“The majority of homes are now up and running, however, due to technical problems with the infrastructure, some areas may be delayed until mid-August,” the ad stated. So far, Camps Foster and Lester, Torii Station and Kadena Air Base have cable Internet service.

“Things are going well, despite our infrastructure problem,” Hadsell said Friday. “We’re behind schedule, but just a tad, due to some unexpected problems that were beyond our control. Plaza (Housing Area), (Camp) Kinser and MCAS Futenma should be up by the end of the month. We had some specialized high-end material on order from the states.”

Cable Internet service to Camps Courtney and McToureous should be running by the end of the week, he said.

Hadsell said other changes Mediatti is initiating is converting stateside programs from videotape to DVD.

“We just started testing the DVD equipment this week,” he said. “We invested a half-million dollars to bring this to Okinawa.”

While the company is busy hooking customers into the new cable Internet system, it will also soon start installing set-top conversion boxes for televisions, eliminating free movie channels for non-subscribers.

Hadsell explained that when areas were readied to provide the cable Internet there was no way to filter out the movie channels to non-subscribers.

“We’ll be installing the converter boxes soon,” Hadsell said. “Customers will be contacted for appointments.”

However, there’ll be no refund for subscribers who paid for the movie channels while their neighbors got them for free.

“We’re not giving any refunds,” Hadsell said. “This was just a technical glitch that was part of the process.”


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