Getting Online in Japan: What internet is right for you while in Japan?

So, you have just arrived in Japan and are about to start a new chapter of your life! Your room is set, you have a cellphone, and you are ready to take on Japanese life. However, you realized you have no internet besides your phone! With so many internet options, what do you choose?

Japan is a country known for its technology. This is evident in everyday life. Internet availability is not an exception to this (in most areas). With many options available, your needs and usage will determine which option is best for you. Today, we will go over some of these options and help you decide what internet service is best for you.

Table of Contents

1) Available Internet Types in Japan

1-1) Fixed-Lines (Home Internet)

1-2) Mobile Options

1-3) Comparison Chart of the Two Options

2) About Fixed-Line Internet (Home Internet)

2-1) Things You Need to Know About Fixed Internet Lines

2-2) Setup, Costs, and Timeline/a>

2-3) Pros/Cons for Fixed Internet

2-4) List of Three Fixed Internet Companies with English Support

3) About Mobile Internet (Pocket WIFI, etc.)

3-1) SIM cards and Pocket WIFI devices

3-2) Pocket WIFI devices, who are they for?

3-3) Pros/Cons for Pocket WIFI

3-4) List of Three Pocket WIFI Companies with English Support

4) Final Words

5) Sakura Mobile’s Offerings

5-1) Fixed-line Internet: Sakura Fiber Internet

5-1) Pocket WIFI Internet: Sakura Mobile Long-Term Pocket WIFI

Available Internet Types in Japan

Fixed-Lines (Home Internet)

A fixed-line internet is the fastest internet option available. This involves using a fixed fiber optic, or Hikari (光) line in your home to access the internet. Depending on the location and availability, ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) may be available instead. These types of fixed-line internet are typically contract-based and offer high speeds and high data consumption. Depending on your location in Japan and the building you live in, your options may be limited.

There are sometimes two companies you will need to work with when deciding to use this type of internet. Installation of the fixed lines in your building and room may be necessary. These installations are done by one company, and the actual handling of your internet usage (Internet Service Provider) is a different company.

Who this type of internet is for

People who tend to watch a lot of streaming videos, play video games online, and use other services that require a lot of data and high speeds will benefit most from fixed-line internet services. For the rest, you may be more interested in the next option.

Mobile Options

This option typically involves using a portable Pocket WIFI router to connect to the internet. The device uses a SIM card that connects to the cellular networks. This provides several benefits, the main one being portability. With a portable Pocket WIFI, you can access the internet from practically anywhere you have a cellular connection. You can also share the internet connection easily over a WIFI network with other devices.

While signing up for a fixed-line internet, you will need to have the line installed in your apartment/house. Typically, this involves one or two installation appointments by the internet company. The inside installation consists of installing the line in the room of your apartment/mansion/house. The outdoor installation involves connecting the cables outside of your building. Depending on your building, one or both installations may not be necessary. Please check with your building management for more details.

Who this type of internet is for

People who prefer portability and require the internet while traveling or working away from places with the internet will benefit this the most. Also, people who do not require a lot of data usage can take advantage of Pocket WIFI devices’ lower costs and portability. Another benefit is that while almost all fixed-line internet providers require a two-year or longer contract, Pocket WIFI devices generally do not require this. Therefore, those who do not wish to be tied to a contract may want to pursue this option.

Comparison Chart of the Two Options

Speed Cost per Month Data Usage per Month Portability Contract
Fixed Line

(Home Internet)

Fast 5,000 JPY ~ Unlimited X 〇 (In almost all cases)
Mobile Pocket WIFI A bit slower Depends on the data plan 2GB – 30GB+ △ (Some require)

About Fixed-Line Internet (Home Internet)

Things You Need to Know About Fixed Internet Lines

Location

Depending on where in Japan your building is, the options available will vary. Generally, there will be several options available in the central city areas, including Hikari or fiber optic internet. Rural locations tend not to have this option and are limited to other internet options such as the slower ADSL internet line. Please check with the ISP (Internet Service Provider) you wish to sign up to see what options are available in your area.

Building Type

This is something that most people outside of Japan are not aware of. The type of building you are living in will also affect your internet availability. Most buildings can have fiber optic internet installed. However, for rental units, this could be a problem as sometimes a hole or other construction needs to be made for the installation. Other construction may be required, making the building management less inclined to allow you to proceed with the installation. In some cases, the lines may already be installed, so you will not have to worry about the construction. Please check with your building management to see if they will allow you to proceed with the required construction or if the lines are already installed.

Pre-installed Internet

For renters, depending on your building and whether the management company has a contract with an existing internet provider, you may already have internet available in your room. In some cases, there is basic free internet available or internet tied with the TV cable company. Check with your building management to see if there is internet already available.

Setup, Costs, and Timeline

Setup

Do not expect to have the internet immediately after signing up. Typically, for buildings without any prior construction or installation, there will be two installations that will be needed. One is installing the line inside the room. The company will run the internet line from the building’s electrical box to your room. The second installation involves running a line from the communication lines outside to the building. Each installation requires a reservation and is typically done on separate occasions. Installation time runs from 1 hour to 2 hours or so. Depending on who you end up signing with, the ISP may handle the installations and costs. In contrast, some companies will only handle the internet providing service and not installing the line in your building and room. Please check with the ISP company you would like to sign up with for more information regarding this.

Costs

In addition to the monthly usage costs, you will need to pay for the installation costs if necessary. The installation fees can range from 18,000 JPY to even up to 40,000 JPY depending on the company and the type of building you live in! These costs are usually split over a two or three-year contract. In addition to the installation costs, are the general usage costs, router rental, and plan options. Some companies offer specials that combine internet with a landline phone or TV subscription.

Timeline

Depending on the company, the installation can be done within a week or less, while other companies may take a month or longer from start to finish. If you are moving to a new place and would like the internet as soon as possible, it might be best to schedule the installation reservations before moving. Make sure that everything is confirmed with the new apartment first!

Pros/Cons for Fixed Internet

Pros Cons
Speed – Speed is fast and fairly consistent

Data – A lot of data is available

Internet Sharing – You can share devices via Wi-Fi or ethernet cables from the router (If there are extra ports)

Installation – Fees may apply for installing the internet lines

Contract – Most fixed internet plans require a 2-3-year contract

Location – Speeds and availability depends on your location

Fixed internet – Obviously, you can only use it at home

Costs – Costs can be quite expensive

List of Three Fixed Internet Companies with English Support

Asahi-Net

Asahi-Net offers several services and plans for wired internet for your home. They offer dial-up, ADSL, and fiber-optics. The faster fiber-optics, or hikari, service offers different plans with differing speeds. The lowest being “FLET’S Hikari Light,” which offers a maximum speed of 100 Mbps starting from 2,800 JPY a month (not including tax). Within this service, there are S and M plans. Initial fees are about 18,800 JPY. Their “Asahi Net FTTH with FLET’S” service has multiple tiers depending on how much speed you want. Costs start from approximately 3,520 JPY a month (for NTT West area Mansion course) and go up. One thing to note is that costs will not only depend on your building type but also whether you are in eastern Japan (NTT East area) or western Japan (NTT West area). There is also an option for current docomo customers.

https://asahi-net.jp/en/

 

SpinNet

SpinNet offers four different home internet plans, including ISDN (dial-up), ADSL, and Hikari (optic fiber). The company uses NTT as its internet connection, with the bill’s costs being split between SpinNet and NTT. The lowest plan is the SpinNet Basic, providing basic internet through ISDN or dial-up. The next two plans use ADSL, while the fastest plan uses FLET’s Hikari for internet access. Included in SpinNet’s internet service plans is email, internet security features, and such. The basic plan starts at 2,000 JPY a month + tax, and the faster plans going up to 5,000-13,000 JPY a month + tax depending on NTT East and NTT West’s fees. For more information, you will need to view the NTT-East and NTT-West pages.

https://www.spinnet.jp/indexe.html

 

Sakura Mobile

Currently, Sakura Mobile does not offer a fixed-line option. However, plans are being finalized with an estimated release date later this year. For more information, please feel free to contact Sakura Mobile later this year, or check the website around late October or November for updates on the website.

https://sakuramobile.jp/

 

About Mobile Internet (Pocket WIFI, etc.)

There are many cases where you are looking for internet for on the go. This could be for work, travel, etc. Some people are looking for internet options that connect multiple devices to the internet at home and on-the-go. These individuals typically do not want to use their mobile phone for tethering and/or do not plan to consume a lot of data. Instead, they are looking for an internet option that allows them to complete their work or browse the internet. This could be to supplement their already available home internet. If any of these sounds like you, then a mobile internet option might be right up your alley.

SIM cards and Pocket WIFI devices

There are generally two different types of options for mobile internet.

SIM Cards

This refers to either prepaid or postpaid SIM cards that you can pop in a router or phone and share the internet, or tether, with other devices. This has become a popular option amongst individuals with current cellphone plans for needing WIFI for short periods. However, depending on the SIM card company and cellphone companies, some do not allow tethering, or you must pay extra for the function.

Pocket WIFI

Pocket WIFI devices are portable hotspots that allow multiple devices to connect to the internet. The Pocket WIFI devices are small enough to fit in your pocket and can last up to 4 hours or so, depending on the model. Since we are discussing using the internet for long periods, we will focus on Pocket WIFI devices in this article.

Pocket WIFI devices, who are they for?

These are handy for people who do not/cannot do tethering or work with others and need to share the internet. People who travel a lot or work away from home where there is no internet access will benefit from a Pocket WIFI device. However, if you plan on using a lot of data for videos, games, etc., a fixed internet connection may be a better investment.

Pros/Cons for Pocket WIFI

Pros (+)

Cons

Internet Sharing – You can share the WIFI connection with other WIFI enabled devices.

Location – Available wherever there is an internet connection (Speeds and availability depends on your location)

Contract – 2-year contracts are not necessary in some cases

Ease of usage – Set up is quick and easy to use

 

 

Costs – Depending on the plan, price can be a bit on the high side

Speed – Speed is decent, but not as fast as a fixed line

Data – Depending on the plan, data may be limited

 

List of Three Pocket WIFI Companies with English Support

Asahi-Net

Asahi-Net also offers a mobile Pocket WIFI option that utilizes WiMax and au’s cellular network for its customers. There are two plans available for its Pocket WIFI devices, one being an Unlimited Data with LTE plan, and the other being a Fixed Data with LTE Plan (7 GB/month). Depending on your needs, one plan may suit you better than the other. There are currently special discounts, and the prices range from 3,610 JPY a month for the Fixed Data Plan to 4,290 JPY a month for the Unlimited Plan. The Unlimited Plan allows for up to 10 GB over a 3-day period. The downside to this service is that Asahi-Net requires a 3-year contract to use their service.

https://asahi-net.jp/en/service/mobile/wimax2plus/

SoftBank Air

SoftBank offers a solution to take with you a router and access the internet from anywhere with a SoftBank cellular reception and a power outlet. A rather convenient method for individuals who not only work from home but travel as well. You can carry the device with you, and you do not need to pay for two internet contracts. Depending on where you are located, there may be stores that can provide support in English. Cellular reception is a bit spotty in certain areas, and speeds are OK. It is best to look at the reviews for this service before signing up. Some downsides are that SoftBank requires a 2-year contract to use its service and the fees are a bit higher than the other options available.

https://www.softbank.jp/en/internet/

Sakura Mobile

Sakura Mobile provides rental Pocket WIFI devices that run on the Softbank network. This means that wherever you can catch a SoftBank signal, you can use the Pocket WIFI device. With individuals working from home and for those who are on the go in mind, several plans are offered at competitive prices, and there is sure to be a plan that fits most individuals. Sakura Mobile’s Pocket WIFI service is also planning on increasing its Pocket WIFI plans in the future, so be sure to keep an out for announcements in the future!

https://www.sakuramobile.jp/long-term/wifi/

Final Words

The decision to choose a fixed-line internet service or a Pocket WIFI service depends on your needs and situation.
Those at home a lot and have access to the internet away from home may benefit more from a fixed-line internet at home. Other people who are not comfortable entering into a long-term contract would most likely find Pocket WIFI plans to fit their needs. Also, individuals who already have access to a fixed-line internet, but are looking for internet options for when they are away from work can make good use of Pocket WIFI plans.

Make sure you know what your living and work situations will be when considering your internet options. It can be quite confusing with many options out there, so make sure to research as much as possible before deciding on something! Good luck!

Sakura Mobile’s Offerings

Fixed-line Internet: Sakura Fiber Internet

Sakura Mobile is currently in the final stages for preparing its fixed-line internet product, Sakura Fiber Internet. This service is scheduled to be released around the end of the year, with an announcement providing more information coming very soon. If you are interested in learning more about this service, please feel free to check our website or contact us via email.

https://www.sakuramobile.jp/

contact@sakuramobile.jp

Pocket WIFI Internet: Sakura Mobile Long-Term Pocket WIFI

Sakura Mobile currently offers several Pocket WIFI plans which can be viewed in the link below. More plans are scheduled to be offered in the future, so please keep an eye out for them!

https://www.sakuramobile.jp/long-term/wifi/

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