Setting up home internet in Japan can be a hassle!
When setting up regular fiber internet in Japan, you will probably have to let some construction workers into your place for so they can run the fiber optic wires through your walls. You may have to take the weekday off, or spend extra so they can install it on the weekend.
Also, from when you order home internet, it could take up to 2 months for the installation team to make it to your residence, and even longer if you live outside the metropolitan area. That means it will probably take a while before you’ll be able to use your super-fast fiber-optic internet.
For these reasons, SoftBank has released a new service called SoftBank Air to help relieve the hassle. In this article, we will explain what their new service is, translate some reviews, and tell you how to apply.
Are you in the market for home internet? Do you need English customer support? Check out the top 7 Internet providers in Japan here!
Table of Contents
- What is SoftBank Air?
- Pros of SoftBank Air
- Cons of SoftBank Air
- Who we recommend SoftBank Air to
- Comparison with other internet providers
- How to apply for SoftBank Air
- If you need high-speed, unlimited internet in Japan
1. What is SoftBank Air?
SoftBank Air is a new home internet service from SoftBank. They provide a WiFi router that does not need any construction work or installation. Their router connects to their mobile network just like a cell phone.
They market it as a hassle-free solution to those who want home internet without all the costs, waiting, and planning that come along with construction and regular fiber-optic home internet.
Once you make a contract with SoftBank, they will send you a router. All you have to do is plug it into an outlet and you’ll be able to connect to the internet on the same day that it arrives!
2. Pros of SoftBank Air
We think that some people may want to know the pros of SoftBank Air. We have read many reviews online, and have summarized the main advantages below.
Of course, the main selling point of SoftBank Air is the fact that installation and sign-up are super easy.
All you have to do is plug it into the wall and you’ll be able to start using home internet. No construction is required. Perfect for those who aren’t able to get away from work, those who want to set up internet as soon as possible after arriving in Japan, or those who will start working remotely next week and need to be able to use the Internet as soon as possible.
— こしゃ (@ksy28_28) September 17, 2021
“I applied for SoftBank’s Mobareco Air, a WiFi service that can be used just by plugging it into a wall outlet. During my break I received a phone call within 10 seconds and signed up immediately 😀
Seriously, what was the point of waiting 5~6 months for docomo Hikari to be installed? LOL”
Unlimited data usage
Even though the SoftBank Air router is not connected to any fiber-optic lines, the amount of internet and data usage that you can use is unlimited. You can use it just like a regular internet and download or upload as much as you’d like.
— 白玉 (@tonightyaiyaiya) December 13, 2021
I’ll get my Softbank Air by the end of the week, and I can play all the games I want until my first shift of the new year!!! It’s been awhile since I’ve been this exicited 😆
Great discount with a phone plan
If you sign up for SoftBank Air and a SoftBank smartphone plan as a set, the monthly fee for the smartphone plan will be 1,000 yen cheaper.
—ひろき(@hrk_rock69) April 7, 2018
I signed up for Softbank Air and it seems like my phone plan cost 1,000 yen less now.
3. Cons of SoftBank Air
As much as the pros of SoftBank Air seem great, there are also some cons. Here are the main complaints from some reviews summarized.
Obviously, without construction, you can’t get the same fast speeds as fiber-optic internet.
SoftBank air遅すぎ pic.twitter.com/BOMuxoCOJJ
— o_nちゃん (@ztUoCKmeGihWTT0) July 3, 2021
The picture shows a smartphone getting 0.81 Mbps download, and 0.07 Mbps upload.
“I thought it was kinda slow, but the communication speed is just not good. SoftBank air is too slow”
Similarly, if you play games for many hours, they may slow down your connection to prevent large-capacity communication.
— しーべる🎀💙 (@see_bell_29) July 6, 2021
“What is the real reason I was sent back to the lobby after battling for a long time?💥🔫(*´∀｀🔫)
Aren’t SoftBank Air and APEX too incompatible!?
I really need to go to SoftBank soon 😤😤😤
I don’t care if it’s more expensive, I’ll sign up for a line that can play games normally😔”
SoftBank Air uses a relatively weak type of mobile network in the 2.1GHz band and cannot use the SoftBank platinum band (900MHz). 2.1GHz signals are easily blocked by buildings and other structures.
The signal that SoftBank Air can give and receive weakens as you move it further from the window. A few complaints have said that the rain and other poor weather conditions have also reduced signal strength and made their internet speed slower as a result.
— Sora.wktk (@SoraWktk) July 5, 2021
“Something about our little SoftBank AIR didn’t like where we put it up until now, so I moved it around a bit!
In the original position, the signal strength was 1 red dot (poor connection).
I moved it to a place where it got 3 green dots (good connection)!!!
Seriously, I’m going to destroy it, piece of crap.”
For faster speeds, you might have to put the router next to your window.
High penalty fee when canceling the contract
If you are unsatisfied with SoftBank Air, the fee that they hit you with when you want to cancel is almost impossible to avoid.
- When making a contract with SoftBank Air, they only allow you to cancel on the 24th month without any penalty
- When buying a router (instead of renting), they set up the installment payments to be finished 36 months after you start your first contract
- If you decided to cancel your contract on the 24th month, you’ll have to pay the remaining cost of the router (14,850 JPY)
- But, if you decided to cancel your contract after you’ve finished paying the installments in the 36th month, you’ll incur a penalty for breaking your 2-year contract (10,450 JPY)
The contract is basically for 4 years, as you can only make contracts in 2-year increments, but they set up payments to last for 36 months. That means that you can only cancel your contract at the earliest of the 48th month if you don’t want to incur any of the high penalties.
— Shun (@OORer85176510) July 2, 2021
The cancellation fee is 65,000 yen…
Slow speed, SoftBank’s poor response.
Nah, it’s too garbage.
Son (Masayoshi Son, SoftBank CEO),,, I won’t forgive you..
SoftBank Hikari? I’m not going to let you in my house, damn it..”
4. Who we recommend SoftBank Air to
Based on the pros and cons that we reviewed thus far, SoftBank Air obviously is not for everyone. That doesn’t mean that it won’t work for you!
- People who are want an 1,000 JPY discount on their SoftBank phone plan
- People who are okay with unstable connections and slower speeds at times
- People who want to make a contract and start using WiFi immediately
- People who are okay with making a contract for 4 years
- People who want to play games online or join online video meetings from home
- People who need high internet speeds
- People who prefer English Support
5. Comparison with other internet services
So far, we have been focusing on SoftBank Air.
However, some of you may want to use stable high-speed Internet, some of you may need English support, and some of you may not want to be bound by a 4-year contract term.
For reference, we compared SoftBank Air with other similar fiber-optic lines that we recommend below.
Scroll right for more →→
|SoftBank Air||5,368 JPY||3,300 JPY||55Mbps/|
|2 years (4 years|
|SoftBank Hikari||7,322 JPY||From 5,500 to|
|2 years||Japanese only|
|Sakura Fiber Internet||7,128 JPY||From 7,700 to|
|3 months||Full English
- If you want stable, high-speed internet
- If you want English support
- If you don’t want to be bound by a long contract and its terms
Sakura Fiber Internet is for you! Sakura Fiber Internet allows you to rent a Pocket WiFi until the installation is completed for no additional fees. If you’re worried about not being able to use the internet at home until the installation date you can get the internet you need immediately.
More details will be explained at the end of this article.
6. How to apply for SoftBank Air
To start your application process, go to the official website. For your information, there is no English support or English website.
Step 1. Selecting the plan that you want
By filling out basic information about your current mobile carrier, internet provider, and what type of terminal you want, you will get a quote for your monthly cost.
Step 2. Filling out your personal information
Next, you’ll have to fill out your basic personal information. You’ll need a Japanese phone number, some form of identification (a Japanese driver’s license, passport, juuminhyou, etc.), and the address where you will be using the router.
Be careful! You must use the router at the address that you register.
If you want a WiFi router that you can take with you anywhere, check out our pocket WiFi solution.
Step 3. Confirm your information
The third page will have you check over all of the information one last time. They want to make sure nothing is mistaken or input incorrectly!
Step 4. Payment information
The last step is to put in your payment information. Once you finish this step, a SoftBank Air router should be on its way to your address.
7. If you need high-speed, unlimited internet in Japan
If you need high-speed, unlimited internet in Japan, we recommend Sakura Fiber Internet.
- the details of internet contracts are too complicated to understand in Japanese
- you want to avoid long 2 to 5-year contracts
- you want reliable English support 7 days a week
- that you want a simple and stress-free installation process
- you want high speeds for gaming or joining video conferences from home
Sakura Fiber Internet costs 7,128 JPY (tax incl.) a month, which is more expensive than SoftBank Air. But you’ll have higher speeds, English customer support every day of the year, no long contract, and the ability to rent a pocket WiFi for no extra cost until the installation date.
During the installation process for fiber-optic internet, you will need to talk to your landlord or with the installation team; this is where many people who cannot speak Japanese may struggle. However, with Sakura Fiber Internet, our bilingual staff will help you translate all the important information. There’s no need to worry about any miscommunication, and you can have a smooth and stress-free installation.
If you’re interested, check it out here.