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Which cellphone network? 2007/12/12 17:55
Hey guys n gals,

Just a big question? which cellphone network should I be on in Japan? I'll be moving soon to start my new life there and would like some advice and info on people's preferred cellphone company there

Docomo? Softbank? or KDDI?

Which one should I sign up to? I won't be using my phone much to talk to people, I'll use email and text messaging on it alot more than talking, although occasionally I might ring someone, especially my family overseas in Australia and Germany (international calls about once a month maybe) :)

I don't want to spend big on it and my budget is around JPY6000 per month on it and that's for ALL charges, I've checked the websites on all three networks but im not very technologically savvy sorry :/ hehe Softbank appeals to me with their "White Plan"and you only pay JPY980 service charge per month I think...I'll want a 6 month or 1 year contract if possible, don't know if I'll be in Japan for more than that.

Hey if I can find something cheaper than my budget of course I'll take it... :p

Let me know your relevant thoughts. :)

Cheers ^_^
by AJ Hack-It  

A few thoughts 2007/12/14 08:19
I can't give the best advice since I just moved here - but some things to look for are the discounts (you will get at least one or two, they can reduce charges up to half) and making sure that whatever plan you take allows for a chunk of instant messaging/emailing since any friends you make here will be sending you text messages/emails all the time. Not sure which it is they use, but the Japanese definitely use their phones for sending text to each other a lot more than I was used to in the U.S.
by RyanJohn rate this post as useful

... 2008/1/15 12:06
If user numbers mean anything to you: 50 million people use docomo, 30 million use au (Kddi), and 15 million use Softbank.

Docomo is known for being the most expensive, au for having 50% student discounts, and Softbank for being English user friendly. But if you check out all the different carriers you'll find that they are all pretty similar and you are likely to get the same level of service and cost with any of the major carriers.

The white plan looks attractive but be aware that you will be shouldered with the entire cost of your phone although you will have only a month to month contract (great if you can't fulfill the entire 2 year contract). If you will stay more than 2 years than getting a 2 year contract (with higher monthly charge but lower usage fees and a subsidized phone) will likely be less expensive.

For example, I just got a new phone with au. Based on my average usage, the cheapest non-contract plan they offered had a monthly base of 1000 yen which came to about 4500 yen after you add my usage time and fees, plus the phone cost 30000 yen. A 2 year contract gave me a monthly base of 2500 yen which came to a total of 4000 yen after you add usage and fees, plus the phone cost 6000 yen. Over the course of 2 years I save about 35000 yen by going with the seemingly more expensive 2 year contract plan.

check out this page on more info on phones in Japan:

by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

... 2008/1/15 12:13
I just reread your post and you say you'll be here 6 months to a year. Can you tell us what kind of visa you are on. That would help clarify things.

In your case you will probably want to go with a no 2 year contract "white plan" type plan. Unfortunately you will have to pay the full cost of your phone (anywhere from 10000-70000 yen typically) plus a monthly base fee of 1000 yen. If you are a light user like me then expect that to go to 3000-4000 yen per month.

You may be better off getting a prepaid phone. If you are a resident then you qualify to purchase one.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

. 2008/1/15 12:16
Another key is don't go out and buy a phone that has all the latest gadgets on.
Many of the older phone models are just as good, do similar things but are a lot cheaper.
by John rate this post as useful

Softbank - ok for what you pay for 2008/1/15 17:02
We were in the same situation when we moved here..not knowing which cell company to go with. We chose Softbank on the fly, yet we quickly discovered there are many limitations and sometimes the coverage really sucks (no reception in some buildings that AU users can still get). It's good for Softbank to Softbank users though because it is unlimited to each other for most times of the day (good for my husband and I, as we each have phones) and unlimited txt msgs to each other as long as the other person is with Softbank. We had no contract and our basic monthly fee is like $15. My average monthly bill is around $20 because occasionally I will make a quick call to a non-Softbank user etc, but if I make it quick - the service works for what we need it for.
by JJ rate this post as useful

For yllwsmrf 2008/1/16 00:58
I'll be on a working holiday visa from Australia which is typically 18 months.

My work contract is for 12 months so yea hope that helps.

Anyway about 70 percent of my friends are on docomo and the rest with AU KDDI, none on Softbank...so I think I'll have a look at Docomo and AU KDDI...most like go on AU KDDI since I heard from my friend here that it's most foreign friendly compared to Docomo...but we'll see...my gf won't be too happy she'll spend on msging me if I went on it since she's on docomo hahaha...oh well :p
by AJ Hack-It rate this post as useful

... 2008/1/16 09:18
yea, on a whv you can get a prepaid phone so you may want to look into that too as you could probably save some more money. Some of the prepaid phones are just as nice as the contract phones.

Anyway, I chose au over docomo because they are a little bit cheaper. It makes a bigger difference over the long run so if you're only here a short while then I'd choose a company by which phone you like best since each company has different phones. As for your girlfriend, she shouldn't really notice much of a difference in messaging if you are on different carriers, maybe just a few hundred yen a month difference in your bills as messaging is cheap.

good luck and let us know what you end up doing and why so that others can learn from your example.
by yllwsmrf rate this post as useful

. 2008/1/16 11:48
As for calling your realtives, might I suggest that you get a computer and internet access and use VoIP technology to call them. If you and the other person both use Skype or the same VoIP software, calling is free. Otherwise it"s still much cheaper than using a mobile phone to make the calls.
For instance, sipgate can give you a real phone number in Germany which your relatives can call at local rates and you can also use it to call them from your computer at small rates.

As for mobile phone networks here in Japan, I am quite happy with my Softbank prepaid phone, apart from that the phone itself is pretty basic. ^^
by Haf rate this post as useful

cell phone 2008/1/16 13:52
I recently switched to au from Softbank because the coverage seems to be better...my husband has always had au and there have been numerous times that his phone has worked when mine hasn't. I got fed up with that. I am very happy with au's english language offerings, too. I found Docomo to be too expensive.
One thing, I got a new global phone and though using it overseas is expensive, it's way convenient. So far I've used it in Hong Kong and Thailand and it's been great.
by Spendthrift rate this post as useful

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