Compare the Top 7 Internet Providers in Japan | Best Plans for Foreign Residents

Compare the Top 7 Internet Providers in Japan | Best Plans for Foreign Residents

Home internet in Japan is complicated. The details of the services and terms of the contracts can be so complex that even native Japanese speakers have trouble understanding them.

However, settling for a large internet provider just because you don’t understand the fine print can be a dangerous decision.

Most internet providers in Japan require their customers to enter a two year contract. This means that you may end up having to pay a penalty if you try to cancel the services early.

There is also the risk of getting extra add-ons put into your plan, causing your monthly fees to be much more expensive than you were originally expecting.

To help those of you who are struggling, this article will explain all you need to know about Japan’s home internet services.

We have also included a comparison between some of Japan’s best services to help you inform your decision of what internet provider to choose.

Even if you are not well-informed about the details of internet services and all the technology surrounding it, this article will explain everything without the complicated terminology.

Let’s get started!

In this article, we’ll cover:

  1. What are the options for internet in Japan?
  2. Comparing the top 7 fiber internet providers in Japan
  3. Which internet provider should I choose?
  4. FAQ about fiber internet

A quick look: Which internet provider should I choose?

1. What are the options for internet in Japan?

If you are looking for the internet for your home, you have two options: fiber internet (wired internet) or pocket Wi-Fi (wireless internet).

What is fiber internet? And pocket Wi-Fi?

Fiber internet works with fiber-optic lines and is physically brought to your house or apartment.

With fiber internet, the internet speeds will be very fast, anywhere between 100 and 700Mbps (actual measured value). In addition, fiber internet does not have a set amount of usable data, making it easy to use without having to worry about data caps.

We referred to fiber internet as “wired internet” in order to compare it to pocket WiFi, but you will also be able to use fiber internet wireless inside your home by using a Wi-Fi router.

Fiber optic internet lines transfer data using light signals (光, “Hikari” in Japanese) instead of electricity. Thus, in Japanese, fiber optic internet is referred to as “Hikari.”

 

What is fiber internet? And pocket WiFi?
WiFi router for fiber internet

 

Pocket Wi-Fi, on the other hand, uses a mobile network, making it slower than fiber internet. There are also data caps that cause your pocket Wi-Fi to become even slower when you have used up the allocated data.

However, one major benefit of pocket Wi-Fi is that you can take the device with you outside of the house, allowing you to have Wi-Fi wherever you go. The term, “Pocket Wi-Fi” is specific to Japan; in other places, it is referred to as, “portable Wi-Fi” or a “mobile hotspot”.

 

What is fiber internet? And pocket WiFi?
Pocket WiFi

 

Here is a basic comparison of these two types of internet services.

Scroll right for more →→

Fiber InternetPocket WiFi
Internet SpeedHighLow to Mid
CostMid to HighLow to High
MobilityUsed Only at HomeUsed Anywhere
Data CapUnlimitedUp to 100 GB/Month

So, which one should I choose?

In Japan, fiber internet is the popular choice. This is because users can enjoy high-speed internet without having to worry about data limits.

If you are torn between the two options, we recommend you get fiber internet.

However, if you want to prioritize the ability to do work anywhere, watch Netflix on the go, or use large amounts of data even when you are out of the house, then pocket Wi-Fi is the way to go.

In the current article, we will be covering the details of fiber internet, which is widely used in Japan.

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2. Comparing the top 7 fiber internet providers in Japan

Scroll right for more →→

Service NameMonthly Fee*Initial Fee*Contract LengthMaximum Internet
Connection Speed
English SupportType of Fiber NetworkCoverage
Sakura Fiber Internet7,128 JPY7,700 ~ 29,700 JPY3 Months1 GbpsFull English SupportNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
SpinNet5,500 ~ 14,300 JPY11,440 ~ 27,280 JPYUnknown1 GbpsSome English SupportNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
Asahi Net6,358 JPY20,680 JPY2 Years1 GbpsSome English SupportNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
SoftBank Hikari7,322 JPY5,500 ~ 29,700 JPY2 Years1 GbpsJapanese OnlyNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
au Hikari6,270 JPY44,550 JPY2 Years1 GbpsJapanese Onlyau Hikari60%
NURO Hikari5,217 JPY47,300 JPY2 Years2 GbpsJapanese OnlyNURO Hikari40%
docomo Hikari5,720 JPY23,100 JPY2 Years1 GbpsJapanese OnlyNTT Flet's HikariOver 90%
  • *All prices listed include tax.
  • *The monthly fee includes the base fee, ISP fee, and Wi-Fi router rental.
  • *The monthly fee is a comparison of the house-type fiber internet option of each provider.
  • *The initial fee includes the administrative fee and installation fee.
  • *This chart does not include smartphone bundle discounts and other discounts that require specific conditions to be met.

Does this give you an idea as to which service to choose?

We will now go into more detail about the necessary knowledge to have when choosing an internet service, such as the internet connection speed, data cap, and fees.

About the types of fiber networks

In Japan, there are three major fiber-optic networks: NTT FLET’S Hikari, au Hikari, and NURO Hikari. Out of the three, NTT FLET’S Hikari is the most widely used.

Because NTT EAST/WEST is the largest telecommunication company in Japan, the network also has the highest coverage rate. Many internet providers use NTT FLET’S Hikari and offer a variety of plans, which are popular with customers.

Internet connection speed

We assume that you want to use internet with the fastest possible speed.

As you might have noticed, all the internet providers listed on the comparison table above have almost exactly the same internet connection speed. 1 to 2Gbps is the fastest internet speed you will find in Japan.

1 to 2Gbps is the highest internet speed that you could experience only in theory. In reality, your internet speed will be different depending on factors such as the device you are using, the router, and distance from the base station.

If you choose to use one of the companies on the comparison table, expect your internet speeds to be between 100 to 700Mbps. To give an example, as long as you have 100Mbps of internet speed, you will be able to watch Netflix and play online games without any problems.

Here is a chart that shows the things that you can do with different internet speeds.

ActivityNecessary Internet Speed
4K Videos/Online Games25 Mbps
Online Meetings10 Mbps
Video Streaming (1080p)5 Mbps
Video Streaming (720p)3 Mbps
Web Browsing/Emails/LINE1 Mbps

You might have noticed that the maximum internet connection speed of NURO Hikari is 2Gbps. This makes NURO Hikari currently the fastest internet service in Japan.

However, the coverage is only 40%. Additionally, if you are living in an apartment, even if your area is covered by NURO Hikari, there are cases in which your apartment may not be.

Data cap

Fiber internet does not have any data caps. Some providers have specific plans for light use that include data caps, but outside of these sorts of plans, you will be able to use fiber internet freely without data limits.

Fees

There are two sets of fees that you must keep in mind when considering fiber internet.

  • Initial fees
  • Monthly fees

In general, initial fees include an administrative fee and an installation fee. You should expect to pay anywhere from 10,000 yen to 40,000 yen in total. The initial fees for each service listed in the comparison table includes both the administrative fee and the installation fee.

Monthly fees depend on what kind of fiber internet you have installed.

  • Apartment type
  • Single-family house type

Apartment type WiFi costs around 4,500 to 5,500 yen, while the single-family house type costs about 6,000 to 7,000 yen.

In addition, if you want to use Wi-Fi in your house, you will need to rent a Wi-Fi router. It will usually cost between 500 and 1,000 yen per month.

The monthly fees on the comparison table list the prices of each company’s single-family house type and includes the rental fee of the Wi-Fi router.

Contract Period

You should take note that in general, getting fiber internet puts you under a 2 to 3 year contract.

To explain the concept further, you will not be able to simply cancel your contract any time after the 2 to 3 years passes. If you wish to cancel the service, you will need to do so at the exact renewal point of the contract. If you try to cancel your contract at any other time, you will be charged a penalty. Kind of a pain, right?

(Ex. 2 year contract)

  • 0 – 23rd month after starting contract → Penalty
  • 24th month after starting contract → No Penalty
  • 25th – 47th month after starting contract → Penalty
  • 48th month after starting contract → No Penalty

The penalty usually costs between 10,000 and 30,000 yen.

To insert a bit of promotion, Sakura Fiber Internet is the only service listed on the comparison table with full English support and no set contract period. It will be introduced in more detail later in this article, so please feel free to check out the prices and details.

English support

As you might have observed on the comparison table, there are very few internet providers that offer English support.

As for the companies with “some English support”, you will be able to access an English version of their website, but Japanese is necessary when talking to customer service representatives over the phone or when accessing your user login page.

In comparison, Sakura Fiber Internet is an internet service made specifically for foreign residents in Japan. In-house native English speakers are available to help customers and provide high-quality, fast customer support.

For those who need full English customer support, Sakura Mobile is highly recommended.

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3. Which internet provider should I choose?

We believe that the following situations apply to the majority of foreign residents in Japan:

  • You want to avoid the commitment of a two year contract and the penalty fee
  • You are not confident in your Japanese abilities
  • You still want to use the highest possible quality of fiber internet in Japan

Then we recommend that you go with Sakura Fiber Internet.

Apologies for the plug 🙂

However, we’d like you to know that there are multiple reasons that we can recommend Sakura Fiber Internet.

Features of Sakura Fiber Internet:

  • Fast Internet Connection
  • No 2-Year Binding Contract
  • Reliable English Support
  • Simple, Stress-Free Installation
  • Various Payment Methods

While the monthly fee is slightly more expensive than other companies, the minimum usage period for Sakura Fiber Internet is only three months.

Additionally, unlike other companies, there is no specific time to renew or cancel your contract with Sakura Fiber Internet. If you use our services for three months, you can cancel your contract any time after without any penalty.

Sakura Mobile has many in-house English speakers that can help customers with any issues that they may have before, after, or during setup. Since we do not have to go through third-party translators, our quality of support is high and we can respond to your emails as soon as possible.

Sakura Fiber Internet also uses NTT Flet’s Hikari, so you do not have to worry about slow internet speeds. We use Japan’s best.

You can check out the details here!

For those who do not think Sakura Fiber Internet is a good fit

We’re sorry to hear that 🙁

However, we also understand that there are cases in which that other internet providers are a better fit for your needs. For example, if the following apply to you:

  • You don’t mind the two year contract commitment
  • You have a good understanding and can communicate in Japanese

Then we recommend that you go with a service such as au Hikari, SoftBank Hikari, or docomo Hikari.

If you do not mind entering a two year contract (i.e. you have the ability to time the cancellation of your services to avoid the penalty), then you may be able to save more money with providers outside of Sakura Mobile.

Also, if you have the necessary Japanese skills, you should be able to understand the details of the contract without any problems and should run into less trouble in the long run.

Moreover, au, SoftBank, and docomo are also cellphone providers; if you are using a cellphone from these companies, you will be able to save between 500 and 1000 yen on your monthly cellphone bill by using their internet services.

If you are confident in your Japanese abilities, going with one of these three providers would be a good choice.

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4. FAQ about fiber internet

After I’ve submitted the application, how long do I have to wait before I am able to use the internet?

After you apply for fiber internet, you should expect to wait between 2 weeks to 1 month before you can start to use the service. Here is what the installation schedule looks like:

Apply on the internet provider’s website

↓ 2 – 3 days

You will receive a call from the internet provider informing you whether or not they cover your area of residence, what kind of installation procedures you need, and an estimate of how much your total costs will be.

↓ Between 2 weeks and 1 month

An electrician will visit your apartment and install your internet.
You can start using the fiber internet service!

With Sakura Fiber Internet, you can rent a pocket WiFi device until you are able to use your fiber internet.

How do I set up Wi-Fi in my house?

In order to use Wi-Fi in your home, you must have a WiFi router.

How do I set up WiFi in my house?

With Sakura Fiber Internet, the router rental fee is included in the monthly fee, so you do not have to prepare anything yourself.

Other internet providers usually charge between about 500 and 1,000 yen as a rental fee for the router.

For those of you who do not want to rent a router, you can buy one for about 4,000 yen on Amazon. However, keep in mind that almost all instruction manuals are only in Japanese.

 Can I use ADSL or cable internet in Japan?

Yes, you can use both ADSL and cable internet in Japan. However, it is not recommended.

This is because ADSL and cable internet are much older types of communication technology, and the quality is considerably worse than fiber internet. You will experience slow internet connection speeds and there are data caps in many cases.

ADSL services are also set to be terminated in 2023.

You may want to consider using ADSL and TV cable internet only if your area of residence is outside the coverage area of Japan’s fiber internet services.

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Final Thoughts

So, did you find the internet provider that best fits your needs?

Feel free to contact us if you have any concerns or questions regarding internet service.

Our team will be happy to support you!

We hope that now you are a little bit more informed about all different internet providers in Japan.

Conclusion: Which internet provider should I choose?

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