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:
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.
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.
There are also several cable companies which offer internet. Some of the larger options include:
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.
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:
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.
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).
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