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Old Oct 16, 10, 11:33 pm   #1
 
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Renting a PocketWiFi at NRT?

Has anyone tried this? I'm thinking of getting one for my mid-November trip to Japan. Much better than roaming with AT&T with my iPhone and iPad. But I do wonder about speed and how well the GPS will work.

http://globaladvancedcomm.com/pocketwifi.html
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Old Oct 17, 10, 5:11 am   #2
 
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What GPS? The one on the iPhone? Shouldn't be an issue. It doesn't say which network that device is on, so it's a bit difficult to comment on speed expectations.

I have a similar one and note they really are only good for 4 hours or so battery life.
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Old Oct 17, 10, 7:33 am   #3
 
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It looks as if they also rent one of those USB plug in things that lets you access some phone company's 3G network.

If I weren't so low-budget that I always stayed in hotels that offer free Wi-Fi, that would be my choice.
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Old Oct 17, 10, 12:07 pm   #4
 
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B-mobile mentioned before on this forum (if you can read/write enough Japanese to fill out the order form) has data only sim cards (and microsim for iphone 4 & ipad) for sale. The speed is capped at 300kbps but it should do most things you might want for mobile internet on the go.

Prior discussions on the regular sim card version:
Cheap Unlimit 3G Data Connection from Japan Comm

Order:
Microsim version:
https://ec.bmobile.ne.jp/ecom/card_o...t.jsp?id=MU300

"regular" sim version:
https://ec.bmobile.ne.jp/ecom/card_o...rt.jsp?id=U300

Slower then wifi, but cheaper then any device, and works on the go, pretty much throughout Japan.
Various other blogs on the net talk about those items as well.

Unlike prepaid voice/phone plans, no Alien Registration etc is required for data only.
The order form is in Japanese, however when you call to activate the SIM (you have to use another mobile phone, since you can't use the phone the data sim is in, the activation can be done in English on their automatic phone system).
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Old Oct 17, 10, 5:06 pm   #5
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NickW View Post
What GPS? The one on the iPhone? Shouldn't be an issue. It doesn't say which network that device is on, so it's a bit difficult to comment on speed expectations.

I have a similar one and note they really are only good for 4 hours or so battery life.
Going on the Japanese side of the website that the OP linked shows that the service is from E-Mobile.
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Old Oct 18, 10, 8:22 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by railroadtycoon View Post
The order form is in Japanese, however when you call to activate the SIM (you have to use another mobile phone, since you can't use the phone the data sim is in, the activation can be done in English on their automatic phone system).
N.B. you really have to use a mobile phone. You cannot activate using a landline.
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Old Oct 20, 10, 8:32 pm   #7
 
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I just got back from a two-week visit to Japan, and rented one of these devices. It was the exact same device mentioned in the OP, except I got mine from another vendor, Telecom Square. Their pricing is a bit different, with a lower initial charge but a higher daily charge, so which vendor is cheaper will depend on the your length of stay. Telecom Square has the advantage in that they have rental and dropoff counters at major airports, instead of the link above which apparently ships it to your hotel or a delivery service at the airport. Also, Telecom Square has 24x7 phone tech support in English. But the devices and carriers appear to be identical.

I highly recommend this product, especially for iPhone users. It allows up to 5 WiFi devices to be connected to it at once, so both me and my friend were able to use both our laptops and iPhones at the same time. When not in the hotel room, having iPhone data connectivity without worrying about the international roaming rates was a godsend. On my previous two trips to Japan, I used the iPhone in int'l data roaming mode. On those occasions, I had temporarily signed up for the AT&T int'l data roaming package, and even though it was expensive, having the iPhone with full data capability at all times made a *huge* difference in the convenience of the trip. In the absence of such a device that's mentioned in this thread, I'd advise iPhone users to get the data roaming package - even though it's expensive, it's worth it for the benefits you get.

But with this device, it's even better. The price ends up being much cheaper than the data roaming, it covers multiple users, and will connect your laptop if you're staying in hotels that charge for internet access. Plus, since there's no cap on usage, you don't have to worry about it. Even with biggest data roaming package on the iPhone, you do have to be a bit careful about usage, but not with the WiFi puck.

NickW has already mentioned the biggest downside: the 4 hours of battery life. The easiest thing to do would be to just leave it on all the time, but then it'll last you only a third of the day. It was easy enough to get into the habit of turning it off when I wasn't using it, and only takes a minute or so to initialize when you turn it on.

As far as the GPS goes, I think the OP was asking about the Google Maps feature on the iPhone that tracks your location when in GPS mode but needs a connection to Google to draw the map. Yes, it's more than fast enough for that to work properly, and was one of the major benefits of having Internet access on the go as opposed to just in the hotel room.

The only time it didn't meet my expectation was on the Shinkansen. I had read somewhere online that 3G data doesn't work well on the Shinkansen because you're traveling so fast that the cell-to-cell handoffs happen too quickly for the network to keep up. I found that not to be the problem. Instead, the problem was that the 3G signal drops out every time you go into a tunnel, and takes about 30 seconds to re-acquire once you're out, which on the Sanyo and Tokaido Shinkansen lines, seems to be just enough time to get you to the next tunnel in many cases. Now I can really see the benefits of the uninterrupted WiFi on the N700 Nozomi's on the Tokaido line, and if I were buying a ticket on that route, I'd definitely spring for the extra charge to get Nozomi service.
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Old Oct 26, 10, 7:16 am   #8
 
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Thanks Steve M! That was a great review.
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Old Nov 4, 10, 8:43 am   #9
 
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Pocket WiFi: does it need advance reservation? or just arrange on arrival?
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Old Nov 4, 10, 9:28 am   #10
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lulu65 View Post
Pocket WiFi: does it need advance reservation? or just arrange on arrival?
Reservations are required.
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Old Nov 4, 10, 10:39 am   #11
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
I just got back from a two-week visit to Japan, and rented one of these devices. It was the exact same device mentioned in the OP, except I got mine from another vendor, Telecom Square. ...... But the devices and carriers appear to be identical.
I've found a web page advertising the service.
http://www.telecomsquare.co.jp/globa...eails.php?id=3

Saying:
Quote:
Only 1,500JPY/par day & Unlimited !!
Dairy mobile Wi-Fi rental service ....
Perfect for MOO-bile computing.
Japanese are not good at distinguishing the pronunciation of R and L, as you may well have noticed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
The only time it didn't meet my expectation was on the Shinkansen. .... the problem was that the 3G signal drops out every time you go into a tunnel, and takes about 30 seconds to re-acquire once you're out, which on the Sanyo and Tokaido Shinkansen lines, seems to be just enough time to get you to the next tunnel in many cases.
The mobile wifi router you rented uses emobile 3G network. Docomo 3G network's connectivity is generally believed to be much better in rural areas. All the way between Tokyo and Osaka on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, Docomo 3G data communication is available according to the next Japanese article.

新幹線でも快適にネット接続
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Old Nov 8, 10, 3:22 pm   #12
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by O Sora View Post
The mobile wifi router you rented uses emobile 3G network. Docomo 3G network's connectivity is generally believed to be much better in rural areas.
I can believe it. I knew going into it that it was not going to be as good as DoCoMo, but the price was right. I didn't have any problems in cities, although about half the journey between Fukuoka and Nagasaki had no signal at all.

Quote:
All the way between Tokyo and Osaka on the Tokaido Shinkansen line, Docomo 3G data communication is available according to the next Japanese article.
To clarify: there was emobile signal the entire way between Osaka and Tokyo, except in tunnels. So, does this mean that DoCoMo has specifically installed equipment in all Tokaido Shinkansen tunnels to allow uninterrupted service? It wouldn't surprise me if they did, as this would be a major selling point.
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Old Nov 18, 10, 3:33 pm   #13
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
To clarify: there was emobile signal the entire way between Osaka and Tokyo, except in tunnels. So, does this mean that DoCoMo has specifically installed equipment in all Tokaido Shinkansen tunnels to allow uninterrupted service? It wouldn't surprise me if they did, as this would be a major selling point.
I have been looking into this and googled some times, but I did not find any recent official announcement about this by docomo.

FYI, after CI revision some years ago, docomo no longer uses DoCoMo logo.
----

Well, today I found a new comer to the mobile WiFi router race.-- HP

! They don't rent. They just sell. They don't have an office at NRT. They take order online in Japanese or by phone. !

HP's service uses docomo as MNO(Mobile Network Operator) and Nihon Tsushin(which offers b-mobile) as MVNE(Mobile Virtual Network Enabler).HP is MVNO( ... Operator).

I guess they are better at handling inquiries in English.
Customer Info Center +81-3-6416-6333

Last edited by O Sora; Nov 18, 10 at 3:49 pm..
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Old Nov 18, 10, 9:26 pm   #14
 
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Thank you for the info., Steve M and O sora.

After disappointed with the wi2 service, I'm glad to know there is a hope to get a data service available for visitors.

I thought it may not be a bad idea to buy their pocket wifi for Y19,740 and buy a SIM for Y2940 whenever I visit Japan, instead of paying Y1500/day to rent from telecomsquare.

Do I understand correctly? As far as I use HP SIM (300kpbs or best effort), am I am stuck with the 300kpbs limit even though the pocket wifi is capable with the speed, 7.2Mps/5.76Mps.
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Old Nov 19, 10, 9:02 am   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tabi View Post
I thought it may not be a bad idea to buy their pocket wifi for Y19,740 and buy a SIM for Y2940 whenever I visit Japan, instead of paying Y1500/day to rent from telecomsquare.
You don't have to buy their pocket wifi if you have your own portable wi-fi router or a tethering-enabled iPhone or Android as long as they are unlocked.

Quote:
Do I understand correctly? As far as I use HP SIM (300kpbs or best effort), am I am stuck with the 300kpbs limit even though the pocket wifi is capable with the speed, 7.2Mps/5.76Mps.
Yes.
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