Misawa sparks worldwide change for overseas airmen
MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- After a process that took nearly half a year to settle, the 35th Fighter Wing's Communications Squadron has innovated the way companies like ESPN, Hulu and Netflix bring their products to Airmen and families stationed around the world.
A recent switch of internet service providers on base may have allowed for faster, more efficient internet access, but it still restricted users from accessing U.S. content online. That's where Maj. Reid Novotny, 35 CS commander, and his team set out to fix this problem.
"I knew my team was in a unique position to help provide content to U.S. service members and to help improve their quality of living," said Novotny.
Through a series of persistent phone calls and fervent email traffic, the 35 CS contacted numerous online service providers to get Misawa Airmen and families some of their favorite movies and shows back.
"We're the first overseas military base to go through any kind of process to get services unlocked for local host nation IPs," said Senior Airman Auguste Archer, 35th Fighter Wing cyber surety technician. "The first time I went to use the online video gaming website Steam and it didn't work, I knew we had to fix this problem."
Television network ABC was one of the first companies on board to be accessible for users here, with Hulu Plus and YouTube quick to follow. Their biggest hurdle, Netflix, was then reintroduced into families' homes.
After working with Novotny, Netflix has now rewired the way they allow access to their content for overseas military by opening up a new email system solely for military members and their families.
"Obviously, it's a huge morale boost for everyone here," Archer said. "Regaining access to these services is great. It makes a huge impact for a big company like Netflix to work with us."
Jonathan Conger, Global Support Supervisor for Netflix, expressed his great respect and appreciation for all service members stationed around the world.
"We're really glad that we can bring a little slice of home wherever your journey takes you," Conger said.
This breakthrough doesn't just affect Misawa. Novotny and the 35 CS laid the groundwork for all overseas bases to now communicate directly with these companies and access the services they offer.
"The Department of Defense has at least 300,000 troops and civilians stationed overseas," Novotny said . "If the use of these service providers are similar to Misawa Air Base, this initiative has the potential to save service members millions of dollars by avoiding additional fees to view this type of content."