With Japan being as tech-savvy as it is, determining which Internet provider is the best for your needs can be a bit of a challenge as there are so many options from which to choose. That said, there are basically two connection options to choose from, ADSL (which uses standard telephone wiring), and “Hikari” fiber optics. Not all buildings can support Hikari access, but your intended service provider can provide more detail on the specific possibilities with your residence. Most Internet connections can be established within one to two weeks from application. Once the connection is ready, you will receive the necessary hardware (modem) from the Internet Service Provider, but you will be personally responsible for setting up your new equipment. Because of this, and the somewhat complicated process of working with the individual providers, some choose to work with a “broker” like BBApply (http://www.bbapply.com) who can provide support from application through installation.
Beyond the connections, there are a number of service providers in Japan, but two of the larger services include Yahoo! BB and Flet’s.
Yahoo! BB’s ADSL option offers broadband from a range of speeds from 8 Mbps to 50 Mbps. Yahoo! BB is the largest provider of ADSL service in Japan. While prices vary per contract, monthly charges average between US$30 and US$60, which includes rental of the connection hardware. Yahoo! BB’S Hikari option, where available, offers speeds up to 100 Mbps, and are roughly US$70 per month. One-time connection charges will be levied with both options, the costs for which are based upon your building’s existing hardware, service selection, etc. More information on Yahoo! BB can be found at: http://bbpromo.yahoo.co.jp/index.html.
Flet’s ADSL option offers broadband from a range of speeds from 1 Mbps to 47 Mbps. While prices vary per contract, monthly charges average between US$40 and US$70, which includes rental of the connection hardware. Flet’s is the largest provider of Hikari service in Japan. Flet’s Hikari option, where available, offers speeds up to 100 Mbps, and are between US$45 and US$70 per month depending on contract package. One-time connection charges will be levied with both options, the costs for which are based upon your building’s existing hardware, service selection, etc. More information on Flet’s can be found at: http://flets.com/.
For those looking for a temporary solution, there are literally hundreds of Internet cafes throughout the city – many of which operate well into the early morning hours. Prices vary from place to place, but some charge up to around US$4.00 to US$5.00 per half hour. A good guide for locating Internet cafes in Tokyo is the following: http://www.paperlantern.net/internet/index.html.
Wireless Internet, or “Wi-Fi”, is growing in availability across the city at coffee shops, hotels, subway stations, and within some broader areas like “Marunouchi”, Tokyo’s financial district. That being said, Wi-Fi is far less common in Tokyo than it is in other international cities and thus heavy reliance should not be placed on this technology until new Wi-Fi hotspots come online.