Details current as of April, 2017
In Japan, there is one main provider of ADSL and fiber optic internet infrastructure called NTT, which is subject to several anti-monopoly restrictions. While they control the physical components of the internet infrastructure, they may not provide actual internet service. As a result, internet use requires a contract with NTT to connect to their physical network, as well as a separate contract with an Internet Service Provider (ISP) which provides PPPoE login credentials and bandwidth to actually use the internet. While there are dozens of ISPs to choose from, we primarily recommend two ISPs which have excellent English customer service.
Regardless of which ISP you choose, the costs for NTT will remain the same. The exact monthly fee will be determined by the type of property you live in (house or apartment) and number of units in the building (in case of apartment), whether you pay the NTT installation fee in a lump-sum or installments, as well as whether the landlord has any special arrangement with NTT or not. Here is a brief overview of the estimated costs:
- JPY 800 contract fee
- JPY 18,000 installation fee (may be pro-rated with a JPY 3,000 charge the first month and JPY 500/month added to your bill for 30 months, with any remaining balance due in lump-sum at time of cancellation)
- Apartment Type: JPY 3,000 – 4,000/month
- House (or apartment with 3 or less units) Type: JPY 5,000 – 6,000
- ISP cost is separate and normally billed separately by the ISP directly
In addition to the NTT costs, please find costs of the recommended ISPs below.
SonixNet is Japan’s only hybrid ISP, partnered with not just one but two of Japan’s top tier network backbone giants. They provide the best English customer support available in Japan 10am to 7pm Monday to Saturday.
- Optional Onsite Setup Fee: JPY 15,000+tax
- Monthly Fee: JPY 1,700+tax
- SonixNet provides the highest quality internet service and customer service.
- Assist Solutions, the company operating SonixNet, can setup your internet contract while you are still overseas to be functional from your move-in date.
- Great English support via e-mail or telephone.
- Higher cost.
Asahi Net, Inc., listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, operates “Asahi Net” ISP, providing communication services that balance high quality lines, fast communication speed, strong customer support and low-cost.
- Monthly Fee: JPY 700 for apartment-type lines and JPY 780 for house-type lines (or apartments with 3 or less units)
- Low monthly cost. In addition to having one of the lowest monthly fees, AsahiNet routinely offers promotions such as first 12 months free (current promotions may be confirmed on their website).
- Great English support via e-mail or telephone.
- Configuration guides available on their website.
- Submission of a front and back copy of your Residence Card, which is issued when you arrive to Japan on your visa, is needed before NTT setup appointments can be made, meaning it will be a minimum of 1-2 weeks from your arrival until you can use the internet.
Cable Internet Providers
There are also several cable companies which offer internet. Some of the larger options include:
J:COM – www.jcom.co.jp/english
iTSCOM – www.itscom.net/en
These options, however, have very similar offerings and costs, meaning that choosing between them normally comes down to which service area your housing falls under. The speeds are somewhat slower than NTT (up to 1gbps through their fiber-optic lines), and usually max out around 320mbps, however this is more than sufficient for most users.
- There are reasonable rates for cable TV, internet, and landline service packages.
- Billing is all through one company, and there is just one service contract.
- An initial meeting with a salesperson is required before the setup can be scheduled, and you will need to present your Residence Card, which is issued when you arrive to Japan on your visa. It will be a minimum of 1-2 weeks from your arrival until you can use the internet.
- For just internet, the cost is generally slightly higher than an NTT+ISP combination.
- There is no English support number, and technicians generally do not speak English.
“Pocket WiFi” for Temporary Use
If you choose a service which will take time to setup after your arrival to Japan, you may wish to setup a temporary source of internet to use immediately from your move-in date. Sakura Mobile is a reputable company with an English website and English customer service which offers portable WiFi devices, often referred to as “pocket WiFi” in Japan. You may schedule with them to have a device delivered to your home in Japan on your move-in date, or to your hotel before your move-in date, and they will send a pre-paid return envelope with it allowing for easy returns. Details are below:
- Shipping time: 1-2 days (order should be placed 3 days prior to desired delivery date)
- Cost: JPY 700 – 1,400/day depending on the plan chosen
- Data: 4G/LTE speeds up to the daily limit, and then 200kbps after the limit has been exceeded
Assist Solutions also offers pocket WiFi for short term rentals up to 3 months and data SIMs for long term rentals of 3 months or longer. Their fees can be lower than Sakura Mobile for those who need service for more than a few days, and data plans are offered generously at high speed data up to 1GB/day and anything over that being restricted to 200kbps. No configuration is required for easy set up, and fast delivery is offered with multiple options, including same-day delivery or pick-up. Their English website and great English customer service make arranging this service exceptionally easy.
Genki Mobile offered by Assist Solutions Corp
- Delivery methods: airport pickup, delivery, or pickup (at their office: 3F Maruka Bldg., 3-8-2 Higashi-Azabu, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0044)
- Shipping time: 1-2 days (orders placed by 2:00pm can be made for same-day delivery within the Tokyo 23 wards)
- Cost: JPY 3,000 activation fee and JPY 300/day for short-term pocket WiFi. JPY 3,000 activation fee and JPY 3,200/month for long-term data SIM use (as of Sept. 8th, 2017, there is a promotion listed on the Genki Mobile website for first month usage fee as free).
- Data: high speed up to 1GB/day (check calculation methods on the website for further clarification), and then 200kbps after the limit has been exceeded
“Pocket WiFi” for Long-term Use
Recently there have been many options for “pocket WiFi” long-term contracts. Most of these run on one of the large mobile phone service provider’s networks, and do not require a contract with NTT. One of the most reasonably priced, high-speed options is UQ WiMAX, which offers service through several ISPs, including AsahiNet. Just be sure to read all the terms and conditions thoroughly, as there are some differences from a static landline (such as the internet speed being throttled when more than 10gb are used over three days even for their “unlimited” plan).
UQ WiMAX through AsahiNet
- Shipping time: as little as 3 days
- Cost: JPY 3,610 – 4,290/month depending on the plan chosen (with discount campaigns potentially available)
- Data: advertised maximum download speed of 440mbps
This document is adapted from a pamphlet produced by Relo Japan for use by their clients moving into Tokyo or the surrounding area. Reference to any business or organization is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute an official endorsement by the H&R Group. You may find other options available to you with further research.
All logos courtesy company websites, used without permission