note: i’m not getting any compensation from B-Mobile for this; i picked them pretty much based on pricing lol.
remember the days when your only option as a visitor for data in Japan were paying crazy roaming fees or renting (yes, renting) a SIM card from SoftBank? well, no more! recently you’ve been able to order a SIM card for pickup on arrival — i tried one of these companies, B-Mobile, and their deal is much better than the SoftBank rental (which is basically $16 a day for unlimited data), as long as you can live without voice service (i.e., data only).
B-Mobile is a virtual network that runs on DoCoMo, the largest player in the Japanese cell service market. you get two options, each priced the same: 14 days of unlimited data (always slow speed), or 1 GB of data that you have 14 days to use (with speed throttling if you use a moderate amount of data). with the last option, you can buy more data if you run out. the total cost, including tax, is ¥4094, about $38 — with airport pickup an additional ¥216. delivery to a hotel or address in Japan is free of charge.
i got the 1 GB with airport pickup, which was easy. just show your passport at the post office inside the airport terminal.
Picked up SIM card from post office, now to wait 2.5 hours for my parents. pic.twitter.com/TIzAGZIR06
— Jonathan Khoo (@jonk) October 4, 2014
remember to bring a paper clip or something to pop out your SIM card tray, since they don’t send one along 😉
while the service for the most part was great, connecting at times to LTE on my iPhone 5S, there are some things to note:
- the speed throttling is real. they say they will throttle when you use 360 MB over the past three days. even if you’re on LTE, you may be dropped down to EDGE speeds. i also noticed that when i was on 3G (not LTE), it was almost always EDGE-like speeds. i didn’t think i used that much, so the throttling may occur even sooner? i mean, it could be possible; i did use 900 MB over my 9 days there, so i suppose there could have been three consecutive days when i went over 120 MB.
- my Verizon iPhone had no bars on LTE and either 0 or 1 bar on 3G, despite getting great service. this has been confirmed with @theflightdeal as something that just happens, so don’t be alarmed if it looks like you have no reception.
- IMPORTANT IMPORTANT IMPORTANT: you will more than likely need to set the APN. if your phone does not get data service despite showing LTE or 3G (and especially if you receive an error about PAP authentication), this must be done. there are instructions included with the SIM card on how to do this, but you can also view directions online.
- if you have an iPhone 5s/5c/6/6+, you can download the profile if you’re online with airport wifi, or else just follow the instructions for iPhone 5/4S/4 to do it manually.
- ALSO IMPORTANT: once you are done with the SIM card, you MUST remove the downloaded profile or APN settings or data won’t work with your home carrier.
- if have an iPhone 5s/5c/6/6+ and downloaded the profile, you can remove it under Settings → General → Profile(s)
- if it doesn’t happen automatically when you insert your old SIM card, be sure to reset the APN information (instructions on that page as well).