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YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Activation of Allied Telesis’ phone and Internet services at Yokota is under way and on schedule, said Cortney Grace, the company’s general manager.

As of Thursday, Allied had activated more than half of the apartment towers on Yokota’s west side and planned to begin activating the east side towers on April 3.

Larry Salgado, Army and Air Force Exchange Service general manager at Yokota, said more than 500 accounts have been acivated. So far, he added, about two-thirds of the base community has signed up with Allied, which soon will be the base’s only provider of residential Internet and phone service.

After all towers have been activated, Grace said, Allied will begin activating services in the dorms on the north side and the garden units on the south and east sides starting around April 14.

For the most part, the activation process has been going smoothly, Grace said. Field tests conducted before activation began have helped spot potential pitfalls, he said.

Customers signed up for Internet packages must pick up installation kits at the Allied Telesis store in the Yokota Community Center, Salgado said. But on the days towers are activated, representatives man tables in each tower lobby to provide kits.

The kits come with instructions, and Allied representatives at the YCC also will show customers how to set up their systems, he said. Allied also provides 24-hour help support by telephone, he said.

Next up is television service, which Grace said Allied plans to begin field testing April 12.

One issue customers have brought up is that Japan has some of the cheapest and fastest Internet services in the world. For example, Yahoo BB offers a 50 Mbps ADSL Internet service off-base for about $31 a month, compared to Allied’s price of $74.95 a month for a slower, 10 Mbps ADSL service.

Grace said off-base prices are cheaper because Japan’s fiber-optic infrastructure was built by the government. Now that the system has been privatized, Japanese providers can charge far less because they did not have to invest in laying the fiber network. At Yokota, however, Allied Telesis has had to invest in building an on-base fiber-optic network.

Grace said currently there are plans to lower prices in the future, but the company is “always going to look at new ways to provide a better service.”

Emergency 911 services will remain available for all base residents, and Allied also will provide its customer support 411 number for free, Grace added.

As for rates charged to call other bases in Japan or within the local area, Salgado said Yokota customers will, as they have in the past, continue to pay a metered rate.

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