From Mie Guidebook
There are a few internet service provider (ISP) options available to you.
Yahoo BB is the most widespread ISP and there's a very useful service called BBApply which helps English-speakers (and JETs in particular) get signed up with the service. It is especially useful for people from the US as calling the US from a house/apartment with YahooBB only about ¥2.5 per minute.
Friendly site for Gaijin: http://www.eikaiwa.net/cgi-bin/ubb/ultimatebb.cgi
Local cable company
Welcome to the future! How does 100Mbps sound? Pretty good? Well that's the lowest speed offered. Japan's national fiber network is run and maintain by NTT West (NTT西日本) and NTT East (NTT東日本). Since Mie falls under NTT West's service area, that's who you'll be dealing with. The service you'll be buying is called Flets Hikari Next (フレッツ光ネクスト), and is build on NTT's next generation fiber network.
Here is a list of areas that NTT West offers their Flets Hikari Next service in, as of October, 2010:
It's a pretty comprehensive list, but whether you're city/town is on the list or not, there is no actual way to be sure it is available to you without directly asking, you're probably going to want to get a coworker to help. In most cases though, whether or not they service you isn't the real problem.
Services and Prices
NTT West only offers 3 different courses of service (Regular, High Speed, and Express) in 3 different categories: Family Home, "Mansion" (apartment), and Office. There aren't any JETs that I know of who live in an office, so let's just ignore that one.
- Family Home
- If you live in a family home (i.e. not an apartment), then you are going to have to pay initial construction and equipment fees which are quite expensive - around ¥30,000 - ¥40,000, depending on the package you get.
- If you live in a mansion/apartment, and Hikari is available in your building (see below), then not only can you take about ¥30,000 off of the initial cost, but you'll also enjoy around ¥1,000 less in operating costs per month (although you likely won't have a choice in course).
- Regular - 100Mbps - ¥4970 (¥3240-¥4210)
- High Speed - 200Mbps - ¥4970 (¥3240-¥4210)
- Express - 1Gbps(!!!) - ¥6680 (¥4950-¥6120)
Obviously, if you have a choice, there is no reason to get the normal type (aside from slightly lower setup costs) because the "high speed" option is same price. And if you use the internet for a lot of downloads and video watching, there is no good reason not to get the Express type. 1Gbps? Do you have any idea how fast that is?
The Apartment/Mansion Issue
If you live in an apartment/mansion, and your landlord hasn't already had Hikari installed, I'm sorry, but you're pretty much out of luck. That's kind of just the way it is. In order to have a new fiber instillation in a mansion type building, NTT West (and East, for that matter) requires there to be a certain number of "anticipated requests", of which affect that price range you see in the course listing above, and without they won't install anything. Unless you can convince your landlord and 8 - 16 other people to switch to fiber, you're not getting it unless you move.
Wireless services can be split into 3 basic categories: Wireless Data, Mobile Broadband, and Advanced Mobile Broadband/WiMAX.
While 3G mobile broadband service can be had from any of the major cellphone providers (and as such, deals can be added onto existing data plans for your phone, if and you have one), the largest and most well established networks for wireless data are run by emobile and softbank (they share networks). Speeds are promised around 7.2 down and 5.2 up, but what you actually get is closer to 3.0 down and .3 up.
Advanced Mobile Broadband/WiMAX
In recent years, several carriers have begun to roll out their advanced mobile broadband networks. These networks show huge increases in speeds, with comparatively little increase in cost.
- Offers a 21Mbps service for only ~¥1,000 more than their 7.2Mbps service.
- An advanced mobile broadband network run by UQ-WiMAX. For competitive prices (~¥4,500 a month) they offer promised speeds of up to 40Mbps. With these speeds and prices, Advanced Mobile Broadband could very well be an alternative to more traditional home internet solutions. The only problem is in availability, unless you are in the city, chances are you won't be able to get it.
Wireless Data services (such as those offered by Willcom) are prohibitively expensive and prohibitively slow. As 3G mobile broadband networks have become nearly ubiquitous, there is very little reason to even consider this an option.
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