Getting an iPhone 4S in Japan: SoftBank or au-KDDI… or?

iPhone 4s - SoftBank or auThe iPhone landscape has changed somewhat over the last few days. Finally now we have a choice other than SoftBank if we want to own an iPhone. For some of us the fact that we needed at least 24 months remaning on our visa to sign up for their 2 year contract was the killer. For others it was the rumors of poor network coverage or just the desire to wait until the spec was a little closer to the Android phones. If you haven’t got an iPhone yet, it is easier now. But which provider is the best deal? Softbank or au by KDDI?

The short answer boils down to two key factors. If your decision is purely driven by money, the answer is Softbank. But, if you are a heavy user or you just hate waiting for web pages to pop up then I hate to say it but you should probably be going with au. Below I’ll walk you through some of the other differences and throw in another option to include, and help you come to your own verdict.

The price issue is simple. With au, it costs you an extra 500 yen each month on your “all you can chew data” set. Depending on a the model you choose it might also cost you more to purchase the iPhone itself through au. If you are transferring to au from another carrier and satisfied with the most basic iPhone (16GB) you will end up with a “free” phone at the end of a 24 month contract. If, on the other hand, you are an existing au customer and you want the high-end model (64GB) then you will be up for an extra 8,500 yen to purchase the iPhone itself even at the end of your 24 months.

There are a few other hidden costs that go both ways. au only gives you free SMS with other au subscribers (for Softbank they are all included for “free” in the data package). au has a wider variety of voice plans with discounts for people which are worth looking into for people who use their iPhone as a “phone”, too. Softbank’s standard rate per minute to non-softbank phones in 42 yen. au’s is the same but you can get it down to about one third of this if you wanted to (20 minutes per month is the rough cut off line for considering other packs). Both companies now offer free calls between 1AM-9PM to owners of other phones in the same network.

But what about the speed? If you listen to Son-san at Softbank he’ll point out that the theoretical maximum speed at Softbank is 14 M/bs (upload) and only 3 M/bs at au. It sounds like a no brainer to choose SoftBank. The problem is that SoftBank just doesn’t have the network quality to achieve those speeds with the density of users they have online. While it’s official “population coverage” is only 1% behind that of au, the reality is that the number of antenna covering each area is much lower than au (and DoCoMo for that matter). If you are lucky then you will sometimes get a very fast connection speed but the reality is that as soon as other people in the same vicinity are using the SoftBank network at once, the speeds drop dramatically. Think Shibuya or Namba. And for that matter, think remote Okinawa.

But the speed issue doesn’t end here. The real killer for SoftBank here is the latency difference. Have you been frustrated about how long it takes for a simple webpage to be displayed on your screen (PC or keitai!). Well that is latency, the time it takes your server to connect you to the pipe. The longer the latency is, the longer you have to wait until your key press is even registered by the internets. Softbank’s latency is much, much worse than au. If you think you are wasting your life away waiting for web pages to be displayed then you are destined to sign up with au. Here is a great youtube video showing what latency is and how stark the difference is between the two companies:

[youtube width=”640″ height=”480″][/youtube]

For those of you who can read Japanese, here is a link to a guy who has done tests for both speed and latency in three different locations.

Tests: SoftBank vs. au iPhones 
Download Speed  Latency
SoftBank au SoftBank au
Akebonobashi  1.3  2.1  309  94
Keio Line Train  0.4  0.9  779  88
Hibiya Park  1.7  2.0  1108  101

If you doubt the statistical relevance then take a look at this guy’s chart in the middle of his page with 10 readings taken in the same location.

There is one other key factor that is swaying my decision and it has nothing to do with speed or cost. It is network type. If you go home regularly or do a lot of travelling then you might not be that keen on paying the exhorbatant prices that either company charge you when you are roaming. (Both have similar roaming abilities geographically speaking and max out at 3,000 JPY per day if you remember to sign up for their unlimited data O/S plan). That said you are unlikely to want to stop using your iPhone just because you are out of Japan. Stopping short of restricting yourself to the Wifi in your hotel room, you will want a local SIM card. If you have a Japanese purchased iPhone then you will have to jailbreak your iPhone first. This enables to download a bunch of other interesting apps but every time you upgrade your OS your phone is reset to it’s pre-jailbroken set up. The fun doesn’t stop there. Remember that if you buy an au phone that it operates on the CDMA network. It is a different model (physically) compared to the SoftBank one which is designed for GSM. GSM is the most popular in the western world. That means more choice of networks to use when overseas. Worse yet, some countries don’t even have a CDMA network (eg. Australia closed their CDMA network in 2008 and New Zealand is closing it in 2012).

If you don’t want to deal with the issues surrounding jailbreaking then your other option is to buy a SIM-unlocked iPhone direct from Apple. While you don’t get the monthly cash backs (2,000 JPY or so) from the local carriers, you don’t have to worry about signing up for a 2 year contract (or convincing softbank that your visa will be renewed and you really can take on a 2 year contract). The best way of using a SIM unlocked phone in Japan is with bmobile. For 4,800 yen a month you can get 1 GB of data and 20 minutes of free voice. (1,000-1,500 less than softbank/au). Oh and better yet because bmobile is a MVNO on the DoCoMo network you get the best quality coverage in the country. Here is their link.

Compared with B Mobile?
SoftBank  au  B Mobile
 Monthly Fee 5,705 6,275 4,770
Data unlimited unlimited 1GB
Free voice 1AM-9PM  1AM-9PM  32.5 min

Your first thought might be “Is 1 GB going to be enough?” A friend close to B Mobile tells me that very few people max out their 1 GB. If you are a really heavy user then you can actually buy a DoCoMo SIM and achieve the same thing for about 10,000 yen a month. Before you buy a SIM unlocked iPhone make sure you read the fine print on Apple’s homepage.

Given that you can already buy a SIM unlocked iPhone 4 on it won’t be long before you can buy the 4S, locally, too. Here is a rough guide to international iphone 4S prices if you have a friend in one of the countries that offer unlocked phones. I’ve included sales tax because if you happen to be travelling to that country you can probably claim back the sales tax at the airport when you leave Japan:

32GB Unlocked iPhone approx. yen price
 Country incl. tax  w/o tax
Australia  75,000 67,500
Canada 59,000 56,000
Hong Kong  59,000
Germany  82,000 66,500
Singapore 68,500  64,000
UK   76,000  60,500
US  59,000 52,000
SoftBank  57,600  54,720
 au  61,680  58,596

There are a few minor services that au don’t offer just yet (eg. iMessage and FaceTime) and you’re iPhone will only check for new mail once every 15 minutes. But these problems will apparently be solved by January of next year. SoftBank was like this with their first model of the iPhone. Another minor issue is that due to the CDMA network that au uses it is impossible to use both data and voice at the same time. That means that if you are in the middle of a download on your iPhone and you receive a call, it will automatically stop the download to take the call. On W-CDMA (the network that SoftBank uses) you are able to continue downloading the file while you are talking. Not the end of the earth but worth mentioning.

So which option do you think makes more sense? Have you got a 4S already? Can you notice the latency issues with Softbank? Tell us about it? While you’re at it, tell us how much data you use every month!

Nikon デジタル一眼レフカメラ D800

64 thoughts on “Getting an iPhone 4S in Japan: SoftBank or au-KDDI… or?”

  1. I’m someone who has seen first hand how shite Softbank is internally, but even then I will tell you, get a Softbank phone.
    CDMA is a legacy technology, GSM is the winner. It’s betamax vs VHS all over again.

    au is just starting to figure out how to use and sell the iPhone, not like Softbank where all the staff carry one (from Son-san down, both HQ staff and shop sales staff). This is a company that has pretty much bet the company on the iphone, and by doing so turned its market share figures around.

    Softbank gives you (and their smoking hot chicks in their softbank stores will setup for you) free access to their WiFi spots, so the 3G network is nothing more than a backup in downtown Tokyo and most of urban Japan. With apps now syncing and notifying smoothly, you hardly use a web browser anyways.

    If money is no option, and you live in the middle of no where with no Softbank coverage, just get an unlocked iPhone and use it on DoCoMo. Roughly 10,000 yen a month for all you can use data and you’ll get the best phone in the world with the best coverage in Japan. Or do like whatever else seems to be doing these days in Japan, carry two phones, one of Softbank for the iPhone and one on DoCoMo or au for the cheap family calls or whatever.

  2. Excellent article, as usual here at Stippy.

    Guess I’m anything but a heavy user. That is what the usage tab of my 3GS prefs says:

    (since 2010, may 10)

    Total call time: 1 hour 28 minutes

    Cell data:

    608 Mb up
    3.9 Gb down

    I wouldn’t know about the latency times because I only search for very concrete things when out and about, I don’t to recreational browsing. I’m more concerned about that at home but, thankfully, eo hikari takes good care of this.

    Previously been in au for many years and switched to Softbank for the iPhone. Less coverage in certain areas (I’m in Kyoto) but overall happy with that aspect. Customer service experience similar with both companies. At least Sofbank doesn’t spam me with the shitload of promo messages that au used to send all the time, some at unholy hours of the night.

    All in all, my iPhone is more of a pocket computer that gives me access to any information I’d need at any time, maps and directions when I’m in an unknown area, and a backup line in case of trouble (that connects me to my wife mostly). Being in a non-eikaiwa teacher gaijin-bubble this is pretty important but secondary in frequency of use. That’s what the phone part is to me.

    I’m skipping the 4S so now to keep waiting for the iPhone 5.

    By the way, I guess the au iPhone also has the non-configurable anti-chikan shutter noise firmware, does it? I damn hate that.

    PS: Good for you guys that there is only one hardware model of the 4S, thus eliminating that part of the equation when deciding which model to choose based on roaming capabilities. Still, think about what each company charges you for a roaming SIM of for activating the slot, as it is the case in the USA with Sprint and AT&T.

  3. Errm, while the iPhone 4 had separate GSM and CDMA versions (with the latter being released perhaps 6 months later), the 4S hardware is capable of using both GSM and CDMA frequencies. I believe it’s the case that only phones activated on CDMA carriers (e.g., au KDDI, Verizon, Sprint, or whichever Chinese carrier is CDMA) will roam onto the other frequency set, however.

    In the US, at least, any 4S purchased off-contract at an Apple Store is unlocked and can be used on any network. Oddly, all Sprint 4S’s have been reported to be unlocked, too. See:

    Personally, as a 4 owner, I’d like to see Softbank offer to unlock folks at the end of their expiring 2-year contracts. Considering I paid full price up-front (naturally, being an untrustworthy foreigner), it really should have come unlocked in the first place.

  4. I’m considering signing up with b mobile. I’ve never used an iphone before. Does anyone know how much data they use each month? will I max out my limit pretty easily?

  5. i would definitely go for AU if not for my friends who are all using softbank. softbank is killing me with their slow service and not-so-wide network coverage. btw, there is a shortage of 4s supply in softbank and softbank customer service won’t even tell how much longer customers have to wait..

  6. Thanks for the idea, stippy.
    This article gave me the push I needed to order a sim-lock free iphone from Canada. It arrived quickly and works fine. I am using B mobile and love it. It is exactly the same as the DoCoMo network (it even displays DoCoMo in the corner of your phone) so the reception is amazing. I compare it daily with my galapagos au phone and the reception is substantially better – especially in elevators and big buildings.
    In addition to the 1 GB package that is mentioned in this article there is an unlimited data package at B mobile. I went for it. It removes a lot of the stress – highly recommended.
    6260 yen a month for unlimited data (including tethering). 1,000 yen of free voice AND you can cancel at ANY time without paying a penalty!!

  7. I have a 4S iPhone bought on a recent visit to the US. SoftBank completely stonewalled me. Au told that they would not support an unlocked phone. However, Au did explain the B-mobile option through Docomo. Docomo explained their option using B-Mobile, but the 10,000 yen/month cost was discouraging! A Mac computer expert friend sent me this article. Thank Allah, Budha, God and, especially my expert friend. I’m going to apply for B-mobile and hope it satisfies my needs. Will let you know in a later post.

  8. Hi,

    I have got a Iphone4s from AU in Japan..and i need to use it in India..May anyone help me how it can be done?

  9. Thank you so much for this enlightening article. I have just got an unlocked iPhone 4s and have signed up to bmobile as you suggested 4800 yen. You saved me so much time and grief.



  10. Hi,

    I’m pretty sure I won’t as I just check my mail a few times a day and load the odd page. I believe Docomo offer a good fast service for serious users for about 6200 yen with tethering and will let you use an unlocked phone. I will follow up though.



  11. Veera,
    Is it for a holiday or permanent?
    If it is just for a few days then just roam (2-3000 yen a day) otherwise you better take it to china town to jail break it

  12. Hey guys,

    Couple quick questions on the B mobile solution as I cannot read kanji worth a darn…

    Does the 1 gig limited card permit tethering? Someone said the unlimited card did but I don’t think I need that.

    As my wife is a big chatter, does B mobile have packages with more time?

    Sorry again for idiot questions that could be answered by reading kanji, but I think it will help others too…


  13. Hi RJ,
    the 1GB limited card doesn’t permit tethering – only the unlimited card. I chose the unlimited card for the tethering amongst other things but I haven’t got around to using it yet. I’ve heard that it’s slow, I can let you know how it is once I figure it out if you’re interested.
    As for more voice, I don’t think you can get more free voice. You just pay 21 yen per 30 seconds after you use all of your free voice. If you both have iphones then you can talk for free using viber.
    The other big advantage of the unlimited package is that you can cancel any time for free. That was big for me.

  14. Hi,

    My Kanji is awful too. I managed to get all the info and actually do the application process using this fantastic Firefox adon. You just highlite the text and press your chosen hot key. I used an F key. Very cool.

    I am not sure if the 1Gb allows tethering but if it did it would not last long. I think the more expensive simm is for that. You can also translate reviews on Amazon.

  15. Thanks for the excellent info….
    I would mainly be tethering my iPad which I am pulling off SoftBank in 2 months, I have used 22.5 gigs in about 22 months so it might be tight… I guess I might as well get the unlimited and use it with my MacBook too. Skype will be a better friend too…

    Thanks again for your thoughts and info!


  16. The best solution may be to buy a factory unlocked one on ebay and use a local card in Nigeria. The iPhone 4s uses a micros simm so you should check to see if they are available there. If not you will need a cutter.

  17. For softbank requires a credit card to purchase an iphone. AU requires credit card OR a cash card will do which is good for those who do not own a credit card.

  18. Just a quick update for everyone….

    I got the unlimited B Mobile (using iPhone 4s) and have been testing it vs my SoftBank IPad 1 and old school Docomo Foma…


    Network coverage:

    The B Mobile sim card simply says DoCoMo on it and displays their network. As such it seems to get signals just as well as my normal DoCoMo. Working all the way (except long tunnels) from Yokohama to Akita via Shinkansen…. The SoftBank iPad was lost for signal a fair bit of the time… Further adventures in inaka land proved that DoCoMo/B rules in coverage…. Yet in Tokyo SoftBank covered almost as well other than some of my favorite hide-a-way bars…

    Ping times:

    SoftBank seems to stay steady around 100-250ms but when all the way to 600+ms in areas of limited coverage. B Mobile was between 90ms and a max of 250ms. Seems like a draw really unless you are in the inaka, then B Mobile/DoCoMo wins hands down.

    Download speeds:

    Much to my surprise SoftBank kicks B Mobiles hind side everywhere it gets signals… After 35 tests all over I find SoftBank downloads at an average of 2360kbps and B Mobile trucks along at a slow 419kbps… But the app I use to test is “Speed Test” and it is not on the list of “full speed supported apps” for the B Mobile card. My assumption was that it is throttling me down so I emailed a 1 meg file to a linked email and watched it download simultaneously… SoftBank finished first and B Mobile was exactly half done at that time. While B Mobile is faster than software tests suggest the *Clear Winner* is SoftBank.

    Upload speeds:

    Clear winner is B Mobile/DoCoMo at 344kbps to 600kbps everywhere. SoftBank was between 20kbps and 30kbps most of the time… I took that 1 meg file and emailed it from each iDevice and B Mobile won by a mile taking 12 seconds, SoftBank took about 2.5 minutes. The B Mobile was so much faster that I re-downloaded the file from the forwarded file and sent it again… When that was done I resent the file from my DoCoMo Foma before the Softbank finished uploading… I still had time left to get annoyed… SoftBank really sucks on upload and there is no way to sugar coat it…


    When doing tethering (Apple application) via BT or Wifi from the B Mobile iPhone 4s, the iPad achieved the same upload and download rates with a slight increase in ping time due to the extra connection. It seems a small price to pay as BT tethering can remain on 24/7. Similar results was achieved with MacBook tethering…


    Cheapest way to get DoCoMo’s network for an iPhone unless you really use the “Friends and Family” feature… Network kicks butt… When loading websites head-to-head I cannot tell a difference in speed even though tests show SoftBank running so much faster… The only way I can explain this is that Softbank’s horrible upload speeds puts a major handicap on the total user experience….


    Goodbye SoftBank 3G (iPad) and DoCoMo Foma (phone), and hello B Mobile iPhone with 24/7 BT tethering to keep the iPad running along… Will cut my communications bill in half and allow me to tether my MacBook as a bonus…

    Now if I can just get my wife to switch we can dump our home Internet connection (IMHO the tethering is just as good as a basic Yahoo BB DSL)… And dump that useless landline they made us buy to get it…

    Thanks Gents, I hope my review helps out too…


  19. Another update…


    So if you are used to instantly knowing when a mail comes in, that is not going to happen anymore! The best you can do is set a “fetch” every 15 minutes…. SoftBank supports Push so this may be a game changer for some….

  20. Further testing shows that NO APPs can push via the B Mobile (DoCoMo) system, only native phones with imode can push.

    Tested apps include:
    IM+ (many different accounts)

    Further SMS fails to and from DoCoMo (thought that should work being a DoCoMo SIM).

    15 minute fetch does not cut it in my industry… It is a deal breaker for me, keeping iPad/Foma and closing my new line… Be advised… I also understand AU does not push? Can anyone confirm?


  21. Oh yeah… ReRead the article, you clearly warned what I figured out… Maybe others can learn from my dumb mistake now….

  22. I’ve just switched back to AU after being with Softbank for about 4 years.
    Softbank charges are sky high and their service sucks!!
    I only went with them because iPhone was only available with them originally, and I love the functionality of the iPhone when I’m not at my computer.

    Got a good deal with AU at the moment, just 2140 yen a month compared to $oftbank’s 9,000+ yen!!

    We’ll see how it pans out.

  23. Final update gents….

    Just switched to DoCoMo’s service directly with a red card cx as the Bmobile download speeds have gotten annoying, also the failure of pushmail and voicemail was irritating…

    After much reading on the net and enlisting a kind Japanese friend to read kanji; while Bmobile states “carrier speeds” on the Platium cards the real output is about 1/4 to 1/5 carrier speed… I only found one video but it cannot tell the story of how different it really is…

    As it stands the new DoCoMo is on par with SoftBank download speeds everywhere, it is really a dog fight though in Tokyo/Yokohama with no clear winners. The clear loser is Bmobile as it seems they really don’t get DoCoMo carrier speeds, perhaps they mean the speed the carrier limits them too… Also all the trouble I was having with push mail and voicemail notifications, etc if fixed… To top it off if the new iPhone 5 supports 4g I can simply buy one and the card will rock on at full 4g glory as the cx cards are 4g with 3g fallback support… Search “iPhone on docomo” for details…

    Test results so far…
    Ping < 200ms
    DL over 3000kbps each time
    UL over 500kbps each time


  24. Oh and you can tether up to 7 gigs a month on DoCoMo for about the same price as unlimited on Bmobile… And to top it off DoCoMo does not throttle your tethering rates so I feel like I am on wifi with my MacBook everywhere I sit down… Without question DoCoMo wins hands down…. Keeps the wife happy too as the family plan will not die….

  25. Agreed with RJ; BMobile is a waste of time. Downloads are total shite. Please correct your blog to show this. Docomo rocks outpacing both SoftBank and AU in tests against friends phones in the inaka. 3000kbps in freaking Chichibu! Tokyo speeds remain awesome as expected.

  26. RJ / Saitama Otaku,
    Do you have to sign up for a 2 year contract with DoCoMo’s SIM card only plan that you are talking about?

  27. B-mobile suits my purpose fine. It is horses for courses really. I don’t want to tether as I have free access to 64Gbs system at home. I only use it to check my mail, and push does work on mine. I am not tied to a contract for years so I can change at any time. I can suspend my internet usage when out of Japan, and just pay the basic charge 1200Yen.

    just my take…

  28. No but 2 year contract reduces basic charges from ~¥1,400 to around ¥700. You can get either at Docomo shop. Services are same.

    FWIW; 100kbps on Bmobile, Docomo 4500+kbps. Same hardware iPhone 4s. Last bill was around ¥6,000 before discounts. No brainer.

    Bmobile users rarely exceed 1gb a month because it takes to bloodly long! Mine could not even load Google maps. Bmobile guy at Akiba Yodobashi was not surprised. He said Bmobile is targeted at persons with crappy credit. Translation: Pikey Pay-Go cards.

    And Justin this is not to be agro to you mate; but how can you tolerate it? I mean you use the top of the line unlocked 12man¥ Apple phone and have 64Gbs at home. I use ADSL 900kbps got so mad checking me mail I wanted to throw the bloody thing!

  29. This was a really useful post + comment series– Thanks guys!

    A question–
    I have a samsung galaxy note (brand new top of the range android phone), and REALLY want to keep it to use in Japan! It seems like all the carriers are really opposed to letting anyone use a phone they havn’t bought from the carrier (and they charge so much for them too…)–

    I would be happy with Docomo I think, but I havn’t been able to find them selling a sim (with unlimited data) anywhere… Could somebody post a link to the docomo sim only option, which you guys have been talking about??
    Its a shame b mobile doesn’t provide push, because it seems pretty great apart from that…

    Thanks a heap for the help!

  30. plzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
    anybody help me
    i have one iphone 4s with au by kddi network
    i want to use in spain with onother simcards
    is possible to unlock ?????????????

  31. Recommend au over Softbank for those living in Okinawa.

    If you’re in Okinawa and don’t live in Naha or Hirara (Miyako — I don’t know about Ishigaki or the other outlying islands), I recommend staying away from a Softbank iPhone. I have had Softbank 3G iPhone and an au iPhone 4s:

    The coverage is horrible, rate of dropped calls is extremely high, and the latency was very frustrating (map usage was spotty), and worst the company doesn’t care that they’re providing bad service. My friends in Naha had a better overall experience than me, but he could only get a signal in one part of his apartment. Those in Miyako have said their experience was great… they put up a new tower just before unveiling the 3G back in 2009 or so.

    With au you do pay more, but I have very few dropped calls, fast browsing and great connectivity. I have had good coverage as well sailing a few miles offshore in the Chatan and White Beach areas. I’m very happy with au service and the iPhone 4s.

  32. So my question is. Can you get for sure an unlocked iPhone at the apple stores in Japan? And can you get a 2 year contract say with softbank without having to get another iphone but rather use the sim on your exsisting phone?

  33. Lucas,
    You can NOT get an unlocked iPhone at an apple store in Japan. You have to go to a dodgy reseller on yahoo auction etc if you want one (and pay for the pleasure). If you go to softbank they will happily sell you an iPhone with a 2 year contract… but it won’t be sim unlocked.

  34. sauté guy,

    Thanks for your post. Shame softbank does not allow a sim unlocked iPhone. Hope the phone will be sellable after a 2 far contract.

  35. By the way guys, can you use facetime and imessage in AU? According to this page they will upgrade it in January and I got my phone this month (jailbroken of cause) but i still cant use it.

  36. Hi
    has anyone worked out a way of using wifi and email at the same time yet? i remember being told that in order to receive email on 4S you have to turn wifi off, is that still true? also when the hell are AU going to sort out the lack of push?

  37. Hello everyone, I live in France, my father went on a mission in Japan gave me a new iPhone 4S KDDI, I would like to know the unlock procedure KDDI? I wonder if someone would not have used a map siim KDDI. Thank you for contacting me.

  38. T-A-L-L-C-H-A-T-/(C-0-M), the top site where you can find Tallmen and Bigwomen there, worthy a t ry

  39. where can i buy iphone 4s in gifu,japan?just only the unit,no plans or anything.and will bring it to another country.thanks.:)

  40. Jen pompon. You can’t
    He only say you can get an iPhone in Japan without a plan is on the Internet. Search for sim unlocked iPhone in Japanese and you will see some sites that resell the us unlocked model albeit at a nice profit.

  41. Just got to Yokosuka last week, and after a solid week on au’s KDDI network, I have no complaints. I went and ate up 2GB of data in a matter of days, though, and I think they’re throttling my speed now.

  42. actually I went out and got a b-mobile in the end. I must say I have no complaints. About once a month I have an hour or two where it doesn’t connect to the data network for some reason (probably sabotage from docomo) but otherwise it has been great. tethering has been a life saver and allowed me to can my wimax subscription. as long as you’re not downloading video their tethering speeds are fine (you can get a little more than they claim, too, by reversing the network settings)

  43. a friend was asking how much I’m spending on my b-mobile. I just looked it up (you can pull up your last 6 months of charges (including phone numbers) on the net so I thought I may as well leave it here for reference.
    I am on the all you can munch pack for 6,265 yen a month that allows me to tether to my notebook, too. (name: talking b-microSIM プラチナサービス)
    I don’t make many phone calls so in 3 of the 6 months that I have been subscribing I haven’t been charged anything extra (you get 30 mins worth of free phone calls). What ever you call over and above the 30 minutes is charged at about 2,500 yen an hour so you eat your own cooking there.

    What is more interesting to me is my data usage. I was worried that I would use more than the 1GB/month you are allowed in the “talking 1GB定額” plan they have that this article recommended. The iphone tells me how much data I have uploaded and downloaded over the cellular network since buying it 6 months ago. (note: I use my home wifi connection for video downloads.) In 6 months I have sent 770 MB and received 5.9 GB. That is 6.65 GB or an average of 1.1GB per month. Interesting. That means I would have been capped out on about day 27 of each month.

    I am paying an extra 30% (1,475 yen) per month for the pleasure of another 10% of data and no frustration of hitting my cap. Perhaps it is worth it. Then again, if I stopped regularly updating my apps over the cellular network (which is a habit that is pretty easy to change) then I’m pretty sure I could reduce my data usage by 10%. Maybe it isn’t worth it. 17,700 yen per year is a big premium to pay for the right to be sloppy.

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