Yokota cable provider planning an extended channel line-up soon
Stars and Stripes May 12, 2008
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Additional channels and “time shift servers” are coming to Yokota’s cable television system as part of a long-awaited upgrade.
But exactly what’s headed to the airwaves remains unclear.
Larry Salgado, Yokota Exchange general manager, confirmed the Army and Air Force Exchange Service and contract provider Allied Telesis have plans to improve the current offering, but would not reveal details.
“Changes are in store, including an expanded channel lineup,” he said Friday. “However, final arrangements are still pending.”
He declined to comment further but said more information would be released in the near future. In a recent e-mail to Stars and Stripes, Bruse Green, the Yokota business general manager for Allied Telesis, wrote that “we are working feverishly to vastly improve the channel line-up and introduce time shifting … two of the most requested comments from our users.”
But “technical hurdles and content contracts” still needed to be addressed, he added. Allied Telesis offers 23 channels on the second and third tiers of its Internet Protocol Television package, including A&E, Lifetime, National Geographic, The History Channel and Big Ten Network.
In September 2006, Allied Telesis Capital Corp. signed a 15-year deal with AAFES to provide voice, video and data services at Yokota. During a town hall meeting about a month later, company representatives laid out a service road map for the base. They hoped to bring in a 60-channel lineup broadcasting live feeds through a fiber-optic link based in San Francisco. Digital video recorders would be made available for an added cost and allow viewers to offset the time difference, officials said at the time.
A year ago, AAFES and Allied Telesis said they hoped to deliver a full premium lineup with tier 4 channels sometime between last July and September.
Since then, officials from both organizations carefully avoided timelines when discussing new services.
This week, they declined to talk about reasons for delays in the promised features. At the Allied Telesis store in the Yokota Community Center on Friday afternoon, representatives were telling prospective customers they could not sign up for cable because of the pending changes. Instead, people were told to return in late May or early June to register for TV service.
According to the Allied Telesis agents, cable boxes presently in Yokota homes will be going away as channels get realigned on the base’s coaxial feed, which also carried the American Forces Network.
The latest Allied Telesis monthly invoice sent to customers included a notice about the upcoming changes.
“Allied Telesis … is under discussions to offer additional content for Yokota AFB customers,” it reads. “Music videos, sports, comedy, arts/culture, history and multi-cultural are the categories targeted to be added.
“In an effort to further improve service, time shift servers are being evaluated. These will allow Allied Telesis to offer prime-time shows during prime hours.”
No specifics were given, but the invoices promised additional information would be made available.