Useful Knowledge to Use Internet in Japan: 5 Networks of Pocket WiFi / Prepaid SIM Card


Japan has mostly 5 networks to enable people to use the internet, and each has strengths and weaknesses.

If you have a plan to purchase a prepaid SIM card, you need to check the followings beforehand:
1. Frequency compatibility between your device and Japan.
2. SIM lock on your device: unlocked or not.
3. Carrier lock: unlocked or not.

If your device does not clear at least one of above conditions, you will be disconnected in Japan.
In such a case or you do not know in details of these things, renting a pocket WiFi will be a solution to use the internet during your stay in Japan.

However, even if you rent a high-speed pocket WiFi with the large amount of data capacity, it would be a waste of money if the network quality is not good.

So, it is important to select the most appropriate network that fit your travel style for those of you have a plan to rent a pocket WiFi router.
Understanding features of WiFi networks will help you renting the best pocket Wifi for your travel style.

You Can Try Out Data SIM or Pocket WiFi Easy.

 

At LightPocket, if you rent a data SIM card or a pocket WiFi, we issue a full refund(*) after you found that the area you are visiting has no network or your mobile phone was not compatible with the devices.
 

About Refund
*You need to send it back within 2 days from the rental start date. And you will receive a full refund, excluding shipping fee and handling fee.

 

Features of 5 Networks

 

NTT DoCoMo

Coverage Area

The largest among all the networks in Japan.
Most providers of prepaid SIM cards in Japan use DoCoMo’s network.

You will be connected without any problem if you use mobile phones compatible with the following frequency bands they offer.

4G [LTE]

Band 1(2100MHz), Band 19 (800MHz), Band 21 (1500MHz), Band 3 (1800MHz, limited to the Toumeihan area).

3G [W-CDMA/HSPA (FOMA)]

Band 1(2100MHz), Band 19 (800MHz).
 

Downloading Speed

Pretty stable and fast.

Data transfer speed may be slow in the following cases:
Many people use the same network in the same area in the main part of a city (ex. Shibuya scramble crossing).
During the peak hours (ex. roughly between 12:00-13:00).
 

Recommended to . . .

People getting around various places in Japan.
Also, if you have a plan to hiking/climbing or go to islands, a prepaid SIM or a pocket WiFi on DoCoMo’s network will be the best choice.

LightPocket offers a rental service of prepaid SIM cards or pocket WiFi routers on DoCoMo’s network.
Japan Unlimited Data SIM Rental
Japan Unlimited Pocket Wifi Rental
 

KDDI

Coverage Area

Mostly connected with the internet at places where people live.
Although coverage areas are less than DoCoMo’s and said to be disconnected in a few areas such as isolated islands, the areas are expanding.

Downloading Speed

Users using this network are less than DoCoMo’s, and the rate of decrease of the speed due to crowded networks is lower accordingly.

Recommended to . . .

People staying in Japan with 10 days.
KDDI’s network covers a wide areas of Japan and downloading speed is fast and some companies offer pocket WiFi routers using the network. However, the data capacity is limited and currently there are a few services for international travelers to Japan.
 

Softbank

Coverage Area

Mostly connected with the internet at places where people live.
Same as KDDI’s, it is said to be disconnected in a few areas, they are being improved.

Downloading Speed

Users using this network are less than DoCoMo’s, and the rate of decrease of the speed due to crowded networks is lower accordingly.
As of September 2017, their speed is said to be the fastest among the communication networks for international travelers to Japan. However, due to a rising demand lately, some rental service websites note that there is a regulation of the speed.
You need to check such notes before renting it.

Recommended to . . .

People in need of a large amount of data or moving around the country a lot as it covers a wide areas of Japan and downloading speed is fast.

 

WiMAX

Coverage Area

Mostly connected with the internet at places where people live.
This service is offered by the KDDI group, and it is connected with the internet strongly especially in the city area.
Meanwhile, disconnected cases are still found in local areas such as islands and mountains. However, such cases are being improved.

When you use this network for a pocket WiFi router in a room, the radio wave is often interfered.
In such a case. it is highly recommended to put the pocket WiFi near the window as the connection is improved much.

Downloading Speed

Very fast.
If you spend 10GB in 3 days, its speed will be limited.
However, after the limitation, the speed just changes to 1Mbps, which is written on the official website.
1Mbps is still fast.

Recommended to . . .

People staying in Japan for a long time in various purposes such as study or business.
Many Japanese also use this network instead of a landline of their houses.

LightPocket offers pocket WiFi routers on WiMAX’s network.
Japan Unlimited Pocket Wifi Rental

 

Y!mobile

Coverage Area

Mostly connected with the internet at places where people live.
This service is offered by the SoftBank group, and it is connected with the internet strongly especially in the city area.
Meanwhile, disconnected cases are still found in local areas such as islands and mountains. However, such cases are being improved.

Downloading Speed

As of September 2017, it features a functionality named “Advanced Mode,” which enables you to use the internet without any limitation on the data capacity and speed. However, the “Advanced Mode” areas are not large. Although its areas are expanding, you need to check the available areas beforehand.

Recommended to . . .

People staying in major cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya in various purposes such as study or business.
You need to check the “Advanced Mode” available areas beforehand as its coverage is limited yet.

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