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KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — The 18th Contracting Squadron has asked Mediatti Broadband Communications to address concerns that it’s having difficulty meeting its Aug. 31 deadline to provide promised high-speed Internet service.

A letter was sent in lieu of a “cure” notice, which would have warned the company that it had a certain time period to fix the system or be held in violation of the contract.

“We are not issuing a cure notice at this time but we are issuing a letter to Mediatti asking them to address our concerns,” said Chip Steitz, 18th Wing public information officer. “Mediatti is having problems stabilizing the Internet and handling a large volume of calls at their help desk. To rectify the Internet problem, Mediatti has temporarily stopped taking new Internet subscriptions.

“This will allow them the time they need to fix the infrastructure and service the current customer base,” he said.

Mediatti officials did not respond to requests for comment.

The company, which took over cable television services to the bases on April 15 and promised to have the Internet service up and running to all bases within 90 days, was given an extension last month. But technical problems on some bases have slowed the Internet system’s expansion and some glitches have surfaced in adding some channels and eliminating others from the system line-up.

“Our top concern,” Steitz said, “is to ensure American military and civilian families living on Okinawa receive the basic standard-of-living services that they’re accustomed to back home. We’ll work our very best to achieve that by appropriate and reasonable means.”

Steitz emphasized that the Internet stabilization and call-handling glitches were temporary. “Adding more subscribers to the system now would only increase the existing problems,” he said. “Per the franchise agreement, Mediatti has until 31 August to have all the sites activated and ready for customer installs.”

He said the contract establishes penalties for noncompliance but that issue was not being considered at the moment.

“Right now, our focus is on working with Mediatti to correct the deficiencies in order to provide the DOD population in Okinawa with quality Internet service,” Steitz said.

Meanwhile, customers are grumbling.

“We are very disappointed,” said Susan Petersen, who lives in Camp Foster’s Kishaba Housing. “We called Monday about getting the Internet and were told that they were having some problems and couldn’t get to us for at least a week. They didn’t make an appointment for us, they just took down our number.”

“Some things have improved,” she said, comparing the television service to Americable International of Japan, which had the previous contract.

“The quality of all but a few of the channels is much clearer,” she said. “And we no longer get a blue screen with sound and no picture on some of the channels.”

The quality of the picture changed when Mediatti converted taped programs from VHS to DVDs last month.

Petersen was upset, however, that Mediatti eliminated some channels — A&E, Court TV, PBS, and Fox News — without notice while adding others to the lineup.

Fox News was restored after dozens of viewers complained.

“It would have been nice to know why we weren’t going to get PBS any more,” she said.

And, she said, she wished the company had an adequate channel guide detailing the new lineup. The scroll on Channel 5 still contains information on the old channel offering, as do the listings in Stars and Stripes.

“There’s no way now to tell what time programs will appear and where they are located on the dial,” she said. “Sometimes we get daytime Nickelodeon shows at night.”

And some of the premium movie channels, now being offered for free, have sound problems, she said.


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