In a community, confusion and frustration is common during times of change.  A positive outcome of these feelings is unity in finding a common goal.  On April 1, 2009, the Kadena AFB phone service changed to Verizon.  The common goal during this change is learning the new system.

I’ve embedded the links which I though would be most commonly used:




Please share your experiences with the new phone service.  What questions do you have?  And do you have any tips on making this transition go smoothly until all of the kinks are worked out?

For instance, a friend of mine mentioned that if you want your automated voice mail turned off because you prefer your old answering machine, simply call customer service and ask to have it turned off.


  1. Can someone tell me more about phone service options? I am trying to keep a job remotely and need to be able to communicate back with the states allot. Google has internet phone service, does anyone know if that works there? Vonage, line2…which is better? How clear are the calls? Suggestions?

    • We have Vonage phone service which I set-up in the US in order to bring the Vonage “plug-in” with me to Okinawa (Vonage won’t ship to an APO/FPO address). The phone number assigned is based on your local US home base, so people are essentially calling a US number – no international fees. The Vonage device plugs into your ISP router box (your housing rental agency can suggest an Internet service provider for your area — there are ones that can provide a US ISP address mask which is helpful if you want to stream from some videos services, etc.); very easy and simple. The call quality is excellent — very clear. Our experience, going on 3+ years has been great and very dependable. Vonage also provides visual voicemail; when someone leaves a message, they transcribe the message almost immediately and send it to your e-mail address and will attach the original audio file (sometimes the transcriptions aren’t the best, so you need to listen to the message). When you’re traveling, you don’t have to worry about missing calls. Hope this info helps!

  2. Hi. My son will be arriving at Kadena in February. I have purchased him a vonage pack to take with him and also have possibly purchased (through Ebay) a Softbank cell phone. The seller says the phone does not have a sim card and is locked by Softbank. How difficult will it be for him to get a sim card and service if I purchase this phone and he takes it into a cell phone office. Is there a softbank office in Kadena? Also does anyone know if Direct-TV is offered there on post? If not, could you give me info on the cable and your thoughts on if this proposed cell phone is a smart purchase…O and who will he need to contact about internet service. Thanks for assisting me in getting info to my son

    • Terry: The Vonage will come in handy. I would skip the Softbank cell phone from Ebay, however. He is better off waiting until he gets here and decides if he wants a phone from Softbank, AU, or Docomo and then whether he wants a two year contract or prepaid. Kadena has both Softbank and AU at the Exchange. No Direct-TV here, but cable and interent are available. Cable is available through a company called Mediatti. Internet is also available through Mediatti, although there is a new company that is supposed to be offering internet in some buildings soon. He will have to wait until he arrives and knows where he will be living to get his cable and internet started.

  3. Hi,
    I would like to be able to call the Schwab Library from the US. Am terribly confused about how to go about that. As I understand, it is 13 hours ahead of eastern time in the US. Country code is 011-81 and then afte that, I’m lost. TIA, Bisquit

  4. Vonage has made their regular plan better since some of that other stuff was posted. You can now call Japan landlines for no extra charge and you do not have to sign up for any Asia plan. I have the regular unlimited plan. To call numbers on base, I just dial 011-81-98-959-xxxx or to call DSN numbers you can just call the switchboard first. 011-81-98-938-1111, then when the dial tone comes on just dial the dsn number. Or on the Marine bases you would dial 011-81-98-911-5111 then the on base number. It’s really simple once you get used to it.

  5. I’m not sure if this was addressed yet, so I’m just going to ask anyway! Can you dial a DSN number with your Vonage phone? We’ve been here about 6 weeks now and have a Vonage phone and Soft Bank cell phones. I’ve used my cell (using the access number, wait for dial tone, then dialing the phone number) to make calls to the hospital, schools ect…. and I really have no idea how much this is costing me! I saw someone say that you can call Japan with Vonage World, but I wasn’t sure if that also meant DSN numbers. Thanks a lot! We’re debating on if we wanted a Verizon DSN line in addition to the cell and Vonage. Sounds like a huge pain though!

  6. Ladies, my boyfriend and I are active duty Marines and PCSing to Okinawa soon. We were wondering about phone services(we arn’t married yet but will be in a year or so) between bases and such-we will be in different spots on the island. All this info is great and has put me at ease-thank you all for such useful input.

  7. I just spoke to a rep at vonage and they have a new service called vonage world so as long as you have high speed internet you can call anywhere in the US and so far 60 different countries (Japan included unlimited for free) which means you can call your mom in Cali and your neighbor on Camp Lester for free any time you want to. It cost 24.99 plus tax per month but from what I am reading is much better than the land lines they are offering.

    The only difficult thing is that you would have to have someone in the states order it for you and ship it to you but I am sure that everyone is used to doing stuff like that.

    Hope this helps!!

  8. Never got a statement for September, so we went in and paid it , knowing it was due. Got a statement the NEXT day saying I was late on the Previous payment. Had to email copies of the posted check from my bank to prove I paid. Decided to pay for two extra months to avoid this again. Got a late statement today for a missed payment last month. (which by the way is for service two months ago) Is it that complex to keep this straight?

  9. Verizon phone service on Kadena, Shields, etc, is the worst. I have to dial access numbers to call other bases and I get an echo where I can hear myself speaking. The line is constantly going dead. I pick up the phone to make a call and no dial tone. I am very dissappointed with the Verizon service. Verizon should have left the DSN service alone until they knew for sure what they were doing. Thanks to whomever signed off on this contract, you really boned us!

  10. In my opinion, decision makers really dropped the ball when agreeing to this new phone system. Not that the decisions made at Yokota are perfect but leadership there seemed to do better. Yokota went to USA phone numbers with free access to all other USA numbers. So, calling from one house to another is 100% free of extra charges. Also, if you are at a duty phone on base and want to call home, you don’t have to dial the USA, there is an access code that allows you dial directly to the on-base telephone equipment (to access base housing). It is frustrating that I can’t dial from other bases in Okinawa that don’t have (99) off-base access just to call a Kadena MWR or an AAFESS number let alone Kadena base housing. Adding a access number would not be too difficult and should be added. Ok, poor decisions were made and leadership signed off on it; let’s just implement the solution and get it fixed; Now!

  11. If I remember correctly, when we were in england we got charged for local calls too…like next door…LOL. You paid basic service fees and then calls on top of that. I think the “free domestic” thing is just a US thing; like the cell phone plans that offer a certain number of minutes. So it’s more that the US has a pretty good deal going and other countries don’t…now granted, we were in England back in 2000 and things may have changed, but that’s how it worked then — check that; I just looked at BT’s website and they’ve gone to “all inclusive” — so it’s like…$30/mo for unlimited calling within the UK…but we used to have to pay per call local…LOL

  12. Carly, the blackberry will not work here. And you definitely will want a cell phone here but you also will want a landline of some sort since cellphone calls are expensive (receiving is free but outgoing is about 60 cents a minute). I recommend going with softbank because you can call all softbank customers for free (most of the time) and if you have more than one phone number on your contract, then you can call those ones for free 24/7.

    From what I understand the cable internet on base is slower than cable internet in the States but that might be due to such a condensed user base in one location. Skype and yahoo messenger are great to use (although you get charged for text messages on Skype)…in reality, having many modes of communication is better than having less because each is good for a different thing.

  13. Carly, all three of the options that you listed are great. Each has it’s pro and cons. I have a heck of a time with my skype phone. I don’t know why it doens’t work properly. My husband has no problem with it so I’m thinking it’s me lol. I chose magicjack over vonage b/c well it’s free month to month. You can indeed call 911 from a cell phone. That’s really the only reason I have mine still. I don’t use it too much otherwise. Plus, if the internet goes down I need to have a way to get in contact with people since all of the applications I have run through the internet. The internet connection is slower than the one I had in the states. But it’s not terrible by any means. I couldn’t live without it if that’s one of your questions though. With time differences and a family that needs to see our babies grow up, it’s become such a helpful tool.

  14. Okay,
    So I am definitely not getting the Verizon service when I get there. But what about Vonage vs. Magic Jack vs. Skype? We are PCS’ing soon- next spring over there and are trying to get everything in order. Do you find that the internet viewing for people back home is great or could you have done without? What about the speed of internet?

    And what about cell phones that we have here in the states? My husband just got a Blackberry Storm and thinks that he can bring it over there and that we can switch to a Verizon plan that would cover over there. But listening to all this- I think not.
    So, any advice? Do we really need a cell phone over there like we do in the states? And so you cannot call 911 from a cell phone over there?(Reading the above message that is what I got).

  15. I cancelled our service about 2 weeks after it switched over. We picked up a magicjack at the USO on Kadena. It was $46 I think. With that, I pay nothing for the first year ($20 per year thereafter) and I picked out a stateside number. I also purchased an international calling card online through their site which allows me to make local calls here directly (I have to dial them like I’m calling internationally from the states). I spent $40 on that and I think I’ve only used maybe 20 min. of my 1600 or something like that to make appointments at the hospital or anyplace else I think will put me on hold for a long time. We’ve had it for a good 2 months now. We also have 2 softbank cell phones which run us about $30 a month. So, I’ve basically elimated my old $70 a month phone bill. I couldn’t be more pleased. I’m still waiting for a bill from Verizon to pay for those 2 weeks of service. They told me to call next week if I don’t receive it by then.

  16. We cancelled the service as well, I switched to Vonage, I still have to dial a million numbers to call anywhere on island, however my bill is only 43.00 a month. I just upgraded to the call asia plan so for the extra $10.00 I can call anywhere on island with no limits or extra charges. Except for cell phones but that is what Softbank is for.

  17. I hate calling Lester.. dial 99-911-5111 then orthopedics 643-7351/7297. Here I have been trying to call from Kadena and the line is always busy. Here I needed to reschedule appointments, but line always busy. I was able to get thru to the quarter deck/front hospital desk and asked if their number changed or something?? Here they called the clinic and said they are extrememly busy. I tried calling from my cell phone – busy. I drove there went upstairs to see why I couldn’t get thru. It was completely empty. No one was on the phones. I asked if something was wrong with their phones – they said NO. I called verizon they said nothing was wrong with the line or anything. WTF?? There are several places I call daily that are always busy that I have to drive there which is a waste of time and gas.

    Another problem we have had, people always say they keep trying to call us, but our phone never rings!! People in the States have been calling again can’t get thru. Most of the time when we call the States or 1-800 number’s we can’t get thru. Here it will dial and go thru, but then we get disconnected and of course we are charged for it.

    Our voicemail, it keeps telling us the password is incorrect try again. I called verizon to get it reset. After my 4 attempt calling verizon – we gave up! Our called ID doesn’t show anyone ever called us, but we have messages that we can’t get!! lol

    Everytime you call 99 – you get charged. Most of the places we call we can never get thru – always busy. We just drive there now. We ended up changing all of our PCM’s to Kadena from Lester just so we could get thru and make appointments as needed.

    Since we are PSC’ing soon, my husband got tired of this BS and canceled the verizon shi$$ty service. Cell phone is the way to here!

    Since the service is canceled it still flashes we have messages that we can’t get too! quite annoying..

  18. I got my bill (for April) last week on Kadena. It was like $36 for the phone service itself and then I had $13 in charges to the states. It is 3 cents a minute to call the US. The bill is due on June 29th.

  19. Lizz, to call 911 from your cell phone you can dial 098-911-1991. It will put you through directly. Also, to add to Paul’s post…To dial to any of the bases that fall under the Marine Corps, you can dial the base access number 098-911-5111 and then dial the old 7 digit number. I use this to call Lester from my cell phone (99-911-5111) and then the orig. number and also to call Camp Schwab. It’s so much easier when you have this list!!! I had no idea the numbers changed until I hounded someone at the communications office on Kadena:) Thanks for posting it Paul! Very helpful!

  20. I’m surprised no one has this posted yet…this will make life easier for many of you.

    Calling people on other bases, you need to change the prefix, then dial direct:

    645 change to 970

    622 change to 954

    646 change to 971

    623 change to 969

    These came out about a year ago, and I saved the clipping for some reason.

    For example…if you want to call someone on Hansen, instead of 623-xxxx you would dial 969-xxxx, it works on the cell phone too, but you would dial 098-969-xxxx

    At the time this was printed, there was nothing as yet for 625(schwab) and if there are others missing, they too were left off.

    You might be able to contact the operator to see if there is a direct dial number available.

    This works great for base restaurants too so that you may save the numbers in your cell phone and call direct.

    Hope these help.

  21. Ok so this is what we have. We just arrived on the island about a month ago. My husband got us MagicJack for our calling back to the states. We only pay $25 dollars a YEAR and our family can call us here like it was a long distance call. We haven’t had any real problems with this system. We have also gotten a couple of cell phones through AU and so far no problems but maybe a couple of dropped calls. The only problem that we have with all of this is that we can’t call 911 through our phones. So we are thinking about getting a land line number with a Kadena base number. But reading all this info about Verizon, it’s very confusing and I’m thinking we will just stick with our cell phones.

  22. My husband got so annoyed he canceled our service…so now I have to call everywhere from my cell phone….hmmmm. Even though I was not happy with our service, I still wanted a “land line”! We might go back to it when the kinks get worked out. The “new” problem we were having was that we had NO dial tone and those calling us just got a busy signal. So my husband called and they said it could take up to a week to get someone to check out the problem! So, he just cancelled. The woman said…get this….”are you really that disgruntled?” Ha, ha…if only someone that works there would read this post and everyone who has commented!

  23. This new service is a major pain, I hope the Marine Corps realize this issue and not move foward with Verizon, cost more money, I have to pay extra to call someone in Lester, its a nightmare and so many damn numbers to dial prior to make a call,,, REALLY SUCKS

  24. I just learned some more information on a couple of Verizon phone optional features:

    Voice mail

    The voice mail system failed on Friday, and all configurations were lost.
    Restoring it will require re-activating voice mail one number at a time. In
    order to prioritize customers, Verizon is asking those that want voice mail
    to advise the Verizon customer service center. Once restored the password
    will return to the default (12+your 7-digit phone number).


    There will now be an audible indication when you have a message waiting–
    when picking up the phone if you have a message, you will hear a pulsing
    tone (similar to a busy signal). This is a valid dial tone… you can dial
    as normal and do not need to review messages before dialing. While many
    voice mail systems resume a normal dial tone after a few seconds, this one
    does not…so, don’t assume there is something wrong with your phone when
    you hear this.

    Call Waiting

    Call waiting is a free service, but was not activated for all customers
    after the cut over. Verizon is working to activate for all customers, but
    changing the programming for each phone number will likely take a few weeks.
    Priority can be given to those that request call waiting be activated on
    their phone by calling the Verizon Customer Service Center: 959-HELP
    (Mon-Fri 0800-1700).

  25. OMG!!!!!!!!!!!! so more less after reading all this chaos. I SHOULD have MAGIC JACK for me and family to talk back and forth to the US and a cell phone to talk to anyone on the island. IS this correct!? You are making me nervous about coming ladies!

  26. I live on McT, and you do dial 99 first. That means Kadena is now “off base”. If you have the lowest level telephone service, you cannot call Kadena from your house phone. What a crock of baloney and so frustrating!

  27. Danielle – It’s $0.0295 – or 3 cents per minute to the States.

    Sarah and Dasha – I believe it’s 99 plus the phone number. I was told it’s like calling an off base number. Why don’t you call the telephone customer service for your base?

  28. Just to let you know those of us NOT on Kadena are just as annoyed (ok maybe not as much as all of you but still very annoyed)….I can not for the life of me figure out HOW to call someone on Kadena from my house on Lester….AAARRGHHH!!! I end up having to call from my cell phone and paying out the wazoo for it. This just stinks!

  29. Someone asked about when you will recieve a bill. I called Verizon and I was told that we will recieve April’s bill the middle of May. You can no longer have the allotment taken out of your Sponser’s check. You have to set up bill pay will Verizon or mail in a check. Also, If you are PCS’n you can’t wait until the last minute to disconnect your phone. Since you have to pay your balance before you leave the Island.
    Hope this helps!

  30. Antoinette – You can still get Vonage, it’s just a royal pain. All you have to do is give a stateside address (parents or relatives maybe) to have the stuff shipped to. Also, you have to have a US billing address; they won’t accept APO/FPO. That’s what I did after I got here. Good luck.

  31. ARGH! I am really not liking the new so called service, I thought that the after 100 free minutes rate was the same rate as before? If this is not so than I am in deep trouble.

    The calling instructions have changed, and often I end up with no dial tone after dialing that ridiculous chain of numbers. I wish we had just gotten vontage before we got here.

  32. How about that they sent me the wrong phone number on my little postcard? I went around giving everyone that number. Then the lady at the BX said it wasn’t the right number and I argued with her that it was because my neighbor calls me all the time. I leave and call my neighbor and she tells me it’s 959 – _ _ _ _. I was like WTF?! No wonder no one ever answered when I’d call home! Stupid stupid stupid!

  33. I just spoke with both the Fort Buckner and Kadena switches and the number that was sent out to Kadena residents to use to call Lester is no longer valid. It originally was set up because Lester receives so many calls but I guess they turned it off because she said it worked about 10 days ago but they have since disconnected it.

    So to reach Lester you have to dial the same number that you would use to call any other Army/Marine Corp number. 99-911-5111 and then the 6 digits. This of course is trumpted if the number you are dialing has a direct dial ability (645=970, and 646=971)so if you are calling a clinic that has either of those three digits as the first part of their number, you can call directly but I suspect that most of the numbers with those three digits as the front part are residences and not businesses.

    The problem is a mix of Verizon not knowing how Kadena’s system worked beforehand and getting the right information out, and also that the comms people at Kadena weren’t obviously in good understanding of how their system worked either because they were giving out the incorrect info to people at briefings up to the day the switch happened and after.

  34. I CAN’T stand this service. It is ridiculous!!! For such a big company as Verizon is, one would think they would have their stuff together…or at the very least apologize that they don’t! I can’t dial straight through to Lester Hospital. And having a newborn, I will be calling there a lot to make appointments. Does anyone know how to dial straight through? I have to call info on Lester and ask to be connected.

    The thing that was even worse….was I went to the website and looked up how to call Lester….so I tried and couldn’t get through. So, I called the Verizon help line and when I asked about it, the person said, you have to dial such and such (I can’t remember now…and needless to say…it doesn’t matter that I don’t remember it was WRONG!). When I said, oh I dialed this way (as stated on the website), the person said, no you dial this number. I said…”Did it change, b/c your website says this….” THEN he says to me “oh, yes the dialing changed, so the website is incorrect” (at least it was). But he made me feel like I was doing something wrong! He could have at least apologized….but, no I got nothing. AND the info he gave me to dial to them didn’t work either!!! I didn’t call back, I was too annoyed!

    Who made this decision for all of us?!?! Sorry, I went on and on….I am venting. Thanks I feel better! 🙂

  35. Thank you so much for this post. I called and cancelled the “mysterious voicemail to nowhere.” What I don’t understand is why not just gave us call waiting without us having to call for them to add it. It’s still free (told to me by the agent at the help center.)

  36. Robin – On their website, they list a price of $0.0295 per minute for calls to the states….is that correct or did they tell you something different on the phone? I tried to call the help desk and it keeps saying my call can not be completed as dialed. I’ve been calling home like normal thinking that I’m being charged about 3 cents a minute….but if not, I might just have to go throw up now 🙁

  37. I know for us on Marine bases this whole phone switch has been confusing also. We don’t get any free minutes and we are now having to pay long distance to call someone 10 min. away. Has anyone heard if they are eventually going to switch all the phones over or is Kadena it? Also, how do you find out people’s numbers that changed completely or do you just wait to run into them or for them to call you?

  38. The thing that gets me the most is trying to call anyone who does not live on Kadena. You have to dial 99-911-5111 wait for the dail tone then dial the number you are calling. So what I understand is once you dial 99 you are being charged…………ugh that makes me so mad cause I am on the phone at least 5 times a day calling Lester’s hospital.
    I dread the day we get the bill in the mail. Oh and what bothers me worse is the fact that when we had a DSN line we were charged for that, so where is our reembersment for the time we had to pay for something that was FREE!!!!
    Ok that is all I have to say for now.

  39. I want to know why Verizon first stated that there would be no charge to call other bases on Okinawa and now we are being charged? I am wondering if that is somewhere in their contract with the Air Force?
    This isn’t the first base to switch to a private telephone company so they could have researched this before putting anything in place.
    Also, no bill yet!

  40. Ok, So here’s what I’ve gotten from the 959-HELP desk…
    1. Call to request call waiting (mine wasn’t on)
    2. Cancelled my voicemail, I use my answering machine and Love it!
    3. A BILL… “Should begin getting mailed out May 10th” My honest opinion they better not charge a late fee IF I didn’t even get information on a bill or how it would be delivered.. I will fight that one all the way!!!
    4. Be careful with the FREE 100 minutes once you go over it’s a ridiculous minute charge like $2 per minute!!!

  41. I’ve got one of the new numbers and I could probably write for hours, beginning with trying to SIMPLY call Lester Pharmacy last night and having that take 20 minutes. BUT, my real question is HAS ANYONE GOTTEN A BILL?? I have gotten NADA yet which scares the pee out of me.

  42. There is free call waiting but it is not on by default, you have to call to have it turned on.

    You can turn off the voicemail (which a lot of people didn’t know you could do). You can do this at the same time you call to turn on call waiting if you want.

    There is a xls sheet on the Verizon website that lists everyone’s phone number on Kadena (unless it is an unlisted phone number) so you can get the numbers for those friends whose numbers completely changed. Love that this is available to the public out there on the Internet too.

    Calls to all bases, off base numbers and cellphone numbers now cost Kadena residents. That includes Lester.

    You only have to dial the 99-911-5111 if you want to call Torii or any other Army posts, and/or Foster or any of the other Marine Corps camps. 911-5111 is the number that gets you the switch. My understanding that Lester was getting so many calls that they made a separate switch number for it.

    Calling regular offbase or cellphone numbers should be the same as it was before…hit the 99 to get out and then dial the numbers (assuming that is what you were doing).

    Foster already switched to Verizon ages ago…but their original system was set up differently from Kadena’s and that is why it was more seamless than Kadena’s has been.

    It looks like on Verizon’s site that calls to cellphone are almost 30 cents a minute…but the calls to the US are listed at between 3 and 4 cents a minute depending on if you are calling Alaska or not. This would be after the 100 free minutes. This info is under the services/calling rate charges section of the Kadena page on Verizon’s site.

    Note too that I just called the help center to confirm the rate to dial cellphones in Japan and it is true…30 cents a minute. And I also found out if you don’t hit the number one as soon as the guys say hit 1 for an agent, the system will hang up on you.

    Hope this helps everyone.

  43. The phone change is driving me bonkers @_@
    I have a question:

    I live on Kadena and need to call Lester to make an appointment with their specialty clinic. What am I supposed to dial? O_O
    I have tried dialing the number for the place, dialing 99+the number, standing on my head, holding a glass of water, counting backwards from a 100, counting forwards in Spanish……..I’m going crazy!!!!!

    ……..Sorry, I need more coffee *thud*