Yokota losing Americable service in October
Stars and Stripes August 4, 2006
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Americable’s 10-year franchise agreement with Yokota ends Oct. 25, and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is taking over the contract and looking for a new provider of cable television, telephone and Internet services.
Col. Lee Wyatt, the 374th Mission Support Group commander, said Wednesday the base and AAFES are looking at different options and hope to locate a new provider who can offer those three services over a single line by the first week of September.
However, it’s possible there could be a delay between Americable’s departure and the start of new service because technical solutions and infrastructure still must be addressed. It’s unclear how long the potential gap might last, but the base is working to minimize any interruption in service, Wyatt said.
“We’re studying what our options are if that does occur,” he said. “We’ll still have cable one way or another. Will we have all the channels we’re accustomed to? We don’t know yet.
“But this may give us an opportunity to take that next leap in technology. If we have to go through a bit of pain, let’s make it worthwhile and go to that next level with the integrated system into one line.”
Americable provides the base’s broadband Internet connections and cable TV. The base provides phone service, and Japan Telecom handles DSL and dial-up Internet connections.
If AAFES can find one provider for broadband, cable and telephone service, Yokota would become the Air Force’s only base with the one-source, “triple-play” option, said Lt. Col. Anthony Thomas, the 374th Communications Squadron commander.
Americable, which has a contract with the Navy through 2012, will remain at Yokosuka Naval Base, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Sasebo Naval Base and all associated housing areas, said Tony Simon, the company’s general manager at Yokota.
But it was barred from competing for new business with the Department of Defense after a federal jury convicted the former comptroller of Americable International and other affiliated cable television companies on 72 counts of fraud and money laundering in 2004.
“It looks like we’re coming to the end of our tenure here,” Simon said last week. “The base had been hopeful a smooth transition of services could be worked out between Americable and the next possible provider. … We’ve been trying to facilitate (that) but we don’t have much communication with them.
“We’d most certainly hate to see the users suffer. We’d like to stay but we’re being told to gear up to pull out.”
According to the contract established in 1996, Simon said, if no provider immediately follows with continuity of service, Americable must return the base to its pre-existing cable television level.
On Wednesday, Yokota officials declined to discuss what that would mean for cable customers, but they stressed it wasn’t their decision to end the relationship with Americable.
Larry Salgado, the Yokota and Camp Fuji Exchange general manager, said AAFES headquarters in Dallas may make the final decision on a new provider soon.