New provider taking over Okinawa base cable service
Stars and Stripes November 12, 2003
KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa — A new cable television provider will take over services for Okinawa’s U.S military bases this spring, adding broadband cable Internet and new channels.
The 18th Contracting Squadron announced a 15-year franchise agreement with Tokyo-based Mediatti Communications Inc.
The company will take over the system from Americable of Japan International, which built the system about 10 years ago. The system covers all military bases on Okinawa.
“We’re really excited about this,” Mediatti senior vice president and chief operations officer Blake Williams said Friday. “We’ll be offering some exciting new services no later than April, but possibly sooner.”
Mediatti is in negotiations with Americable for the existing assets, said Anthony Crutcher, Far East Operations manager for Americable. Once complete, Mediatti will assume operations.
Mediatti Communications serves 40,000 cable television customers in the Tokyo suburbs, Williams said. The company also has about 28,000 cable Internet customers.
The company estimates it will have a customer base on Okinawa of about 11,000.
“This is something that we’ve been looking at for quite a long time,” Williams said. “We think we’ll be offering a package that can’t be beat.”
Williams said the company’s lineup of existing, additional and extra premium channels, combined with Internet options, should attract new customers.
“The cable broadband connection will be faster than anything now available on the bases,” Williams said. “We’re talking at least 10 times faster than dial-up connections.”
According to 2nd Lt. Duke Santos, 18th Contracting Squadron contracts manager, the basic monthly rate for more than 60 television channels will be about $47.90 without premium channels. The Internet service will be about $39.95 per month.
The current basic cable television service through Americable consists of 22 channels and costs $29.95. Americable’s 62-channel extended package costs $39.95.
Basic Internet service at Kadena Air Base is offered through AT&T at the following rates: 90 hours for $30 and 15 hours for $9.90.
Santos said Mediatti will offer advance payment discounts of up to 35 percent, so that customers who pay a year in advance will get the non-premium channel line-up and cable Internet for less than $55 a month.
“This is better than any deal you can get on the local economy,” Santos said.
Among the new channels that may be offered are Country Music Television, Food Network and Turner Classic Movies. The quality of the programming from the United States also will improve, Williams said.
Americable now videotapes U.S. cable programming not available by Far East satellite service and replays the tapes, which decrease in quality the more they are used. Mediatti will record the programming from the West Coast and re-broadcast those channels from DVDs, Williams said.
“Over all this will be a very attractive package,” he said.