Which Pocket Wi-Fi should I choose in Japan?

Hi

Does anyone have any recommendations for the ‘Pocket Wi-Fi’ network in Japan? There’s a few options I’m considering including UQ Wimax, au, NTT Docomo and Y Mobile. UQ Wimax and au look like better products for the money so likely I’ll go with one of them (saying that all of the products/hardware in Japan is exceptional)…

Specifically interested in experiences and recommendations of the wireless network coverage, reliability etc.

I’ll be predominantly based in Osaka for the next six months, however, I will be travelling for one or two months. Certainly, I’ve got a short trip to Kyushu planned and will be doing a nationwide JR Pass train trip…so will need access whilst travelling on the shinkansen (bullet train).

Anyone had any experience of UQ Wimax or au wireless networks?

Thanks

I’m currently using the mobile wifi my Airbnb host gave me which seems fine for Tokyo but last year, I rented through a company called Global Advanced and used their mobile wifi while I travelled. They use au and y mobile. There’s a comparison chart on their site but they don’t say where they get their data for it.

Hi Kahtryn

Thanks for your reply.

I used Global Advanced Comms. last year as well for one month when I was in Osaka and Kyoto. Took the ‘Standard’ service http://www.globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html (may have been on Y Mobile if I recall) and it was excellent. I did not move around a lot but reassuring to know you had a similar experience.

Global Advanced Comms. also have a spin off service for long-term rental http://www.letinternetjp.com/en/wifi.html Appears to me that the two products they offer for long-term rental are the ‘Premium’ service (from the short term rental site) which is on au and the ‘Super Premium’ service which is on Y Mobile. Download/upload speeds are incredibly fast!!..with some smaller print around download data usage (although can’t see me ever downloading that much in the space of a few days).

Do you remember what product you had as from above I’ll be able to work out the network from au or Y Mobile?

The UQ Wimax long-term rental I’m comparing them with is http://rental.cdjapan.co.jp/index_en_jpy_11.html Again ridiculously fast upload and download speeds with unlimited data. This is on Wimax2 which is a slightly different network to Wimax!

I’ve also seen an NTT Docomo product, however, I have a mobile SIM where I’m living in Osaka which uses NTT and I’m bouncing between the LTE (faster network) and 3G. So at least I can eliminate that product (or rather network).

Eek! Geeking out way too much here but thought it would be useful for you and other readers to know there are some options for long-term pocket wi-fi rentals in Japan.

Just want to ensure I have connections during the long ‘Shinkansen’ journeys I’ll be doing on a JR Pass in mid-November.

I’m sure I’ll survive the trip though without being constantly online!

Thanks. I didn’t know about the long term rental. I just paid for the super premium for when I leave Tokyo on the short term plan but I’m going to Sapporo and Osaka and staying at places with no wifi at all so probably need it.

Sorry, I don’t remember which carrier my mobile wifi used last year.

OK. I only found out about long term rental a few days ago as this trip I’ll be in Japan for six months.

Definitely worth considering as it works out loads more cheaper than the short term rentals. Regarding the products mentioned above prices are between 6,900 to 8,500 Yen per month (inclusive of tax it appears).

Sapporo looks well covered by all the networks but as you can expect other parts of Hokkaido look patchy at best. Osaka should be fine unless you’re out in the mountains between there and Nara.

Just checked out your travel plans in Japan…looks like you’ve got some adventures ahead. Have fun!

Wow, how did you swing 6 months? Or are you doing a visa run midway?

The pocket wifi is definitely a lifesaver. Japan has gotten better with wifi over the past few years but public wifi is not something you can take for granted.

Have a play around with the coverage checker here: http://www.uqwimax.jp/service/area/

The au. WiMAX service area is similarly unreliable.

If you have a residence card (which I assume you do since you’re most likely on a Working Holiday visa) I would consider getting a B-Mobile LTE SIM card and just tethering with your phone. It uses the NTT Docomo network which I find has pretty solid coverage nationwide. You will run into connectivity issues outside metro areas with WiMAX and related technologies due to the system they use being higher bandwidth but shorter range.

I find that the 3G and LTE on Bmobile is good enough for me 90% of the time. When I need an extra speed boost I buy a daily or weekly WiFi pass with Wi2 (http://wi2.co.jp/en/300/) who have hostpots everywhere.

i just wanted to add that I’m using WiMax at the moment (it came with my Airbnb) and I get black spots with no coverage even in the middle of Tokyo. My host just updated the service and gave a new device about a week ago and it won’t work when I have my VPN running which is huge deal while I have home wifi but if it was the only wifi connection I had, it’d be a huge issue for me.

Hi Kathryn

Re. Visa: I’ve got a British passport so can apply for an additional 90 days whilst I’m here. They keep it pretty quiet but there’s some other countries that also get it. Japanese passport holders get 6 months straight away when they enter the UK…so I guess that’s why I can get it here.

Wimax - back on the network stuff. Procrastinating the past few days seems to have paid off! I’d asked a Japanese friend about networks and he didn’t come back to me (yet) so moved onto something else. With your comments here and dfcowell on this thread…looks like I’ll give Wimax a wide berth. Ironically, my Japanese friend originally suggested it but that was at 11.30pm in an izakaya so I may have mis-heard him!

Hi

Thanks very much for your insights from experience.

Sounds like Wimax is no-go then as I hope to do at least 6 to 8 weeks travel in 6 months. Your comments…coupled with Kathryn’s sounds like best to use another network for now.

I like the tethering option thanks for that. I do have a local SIM on NTT Docomo but whilst it’s great in my local area it switches from LTE to 3G in my apartment.

I’ll get one of these options http://www.letinternetjp.com/ tomorrow. Y-Mobile I had a good experience with last year in the same area I’m in now. Not sure about the au product. 165 Mbps it is then!!!