Yokota’s new long-distance plan makes phoning home easier
YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Yokota’s new long-distance calling plan may make it as simple as a local call for your stateside friends and relatives to keep in touch — but only if you lock in your new phone number to their area code.
Yokota’s 227 residential prefix in the current seven-digit DSN format will disappear sometime next month when Allied Telesis Capital Corp. assumes telephone and Internet services. New home phone numbers with U.S. area codes will replace the old DSN numbers. The new service plan will also allow Yokota residents unlimited calls to the United States, Canada and around base for $29.95 a month.
At a town hall meeting in October, Chip Hawkins, project manager for Allied Telesis, said the company is working with Yokota’s 374th Communications Squadron on dialing procedures for reaching DSN lines, cell phones and other off-base numbers.
Cortney Grace, the company’s general manager of Yokota’s integrated voice, video and data project, said loved ones in the United States would be able to contact Yokota residents with a local call, as long as their area codes match up.
Allied Telesis is purchasing blocks of U.S. telephone numbers for the base, said Larry Salgado, the Yokota Exchange’s general manager. Residents will have an opportunity to choose their area code on a first-come, first-serve basis during early registration sometime in January. He said if your requested area code is no longer available you’ll be given another number.
“The timeline did not allow us to say what area codes [customers] wanted in the initial phases,” Grace said. “Later on, they’ll be able to have more choice and we’re hoping to accommodate everyone.”
Regardless of area code designation, however, Yokota customers will be granted unlimited long-distance calls to anywhere in the U.S. and Canada as part of the new arrangement, he said. International calling rates still apply to other countries, along with the same current minimum charge to reach cell phones and other off-base numbers.
In September, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service signed a 15-year contract with Allied Telesis to provide Yokota voice, video and data services. Allied Telesis is opening a retail store in the Yokota Community Center before Christmas that will serve as a platform to sign up customers, explain service packages and schedule installation dates.
During a visit to Yokota last week, Allied Telesis representatives said fiber-optic construction and deadlines remain on schedule for the project.
They said they plan to have Internet and telephones running by the end of January and to begin offering a premium cable television package in May. The company is expected to submit a channel lineup with proposed fees to AAFES on Friday.
“Our construction of the Yokota network is on schedule,” Grace said. “We are excited about the progress. … We’ve built out the transport mechanism and will start on residential areas in January.
“We’re giving digital entertainment to the people of Yokota … in one state-of-the-art media.”
The Allied Telesis brand of ADSL Internet uses “point-to-point technology,” he said, meaning people will get a dedicated bandwidth instead of the shared variety.
“We expect folks will see a paradigm shift from what they are used to.”
He declined to reveal how much it’s costing Allied Telesis to install the base’s new fiber-optic infrastructure, but he put the figure in the multimillion-dollar range.
“We’ve invested a significant amount to show we’ll be here for the long run,” he said. “We think the Yokota community is in for a great user experience. … It will be the envy of the Pac rim.”