On my most recent return to Tokyo via Narita airport, I was surprised at the number of Tokyo WiFi options that have become available.
Tokyo Wifi Options #1 – FREE WIFI IN NARITA AIRPORT
To start, there is free WiFi available at the airport. I logged on using my iPad. What stops most from using the service is the login screen that comes up on the first use. The screen is in Japanese and has spaces for two entries, which appear to be a login and password requirement. However, a look at the upper right hand corner of the Safari screen shows a link to the English page. On that page, you see that the two fields are used for requesting and verifying an email address. I entered my email address twice, and was able to use the free WiFi service. Due to lack of time, I didn’t do a lot of surfing, but the speed appeared to be fast enough for checking schedules and other lite surfing.
Tokyo Wifi Options #2 – SOFTBANK WIFI ROUTER RENTAL
Another option that is now available is the WiFi device rental from SoftBank. I saw this as a new offering at the SoftBank counter in the Narita Terminal. SoftBank now offers a portable WiFi device with a flat-rate data plan.
Their rental plans include two WiFi router options, as well as a USB modem option. I would avoid the USB modem option, as the fine print states, “Japanese OS required”. The mobile routers don’t have that limitation. However, the Mobile routers do require re-charging the battery periodically.
The stated speed of 7.2Mbps download and 5.8Mbps upload is below my recommended minimum for streaming video or Skype calling, but it is fast enough for light web browsing.
The price quoted is 1,890 Yen (1,575 Yen Rental Fee plus 315 Yen Administrative fee). Note that the minimum rental period is three days.
The beauty of these plans is the flat rate. SoftBank has been criticized in the past for excessive charges of per byte users. With the flat rate plan, there will be no huge surprises at the end of the rental period.
Softbank also offers iPhone SIM card rentals, 3G SIM card rentals, and Smartphone rentals. The drawback to those options is that many of us have all of our information (phone numbers, call lists, even passwords, etc.) in their current device. I don’t feel comfortable putting an unknown SIM card in my phone, and feel even less comfortable giving that SIM back to SoftBank to be used by the next tourist.
Tokyo Wifi Options #3 – BOINGO
I really wanted to give this service a chance in Tokyo. As an intermittent Boingo user, I wanted to get a chance to use my existing account. I downloaded the App for my iPad, using my apartment’s WiFi signal. The Boingo App has a fancy map that indicates supposed Boingo WiFi hotspots available. It would appear from the map that dozens of spots are available a short distance from my apartment. However, when I tried to use these hotspots, I could not use my Boingo account to login to the hotspots. Also, opening the Boingo App gave me a message that I needed to log on to a WiFi network to use the App.
If the only thing the App provides is a list of hotspots, which it in no way helps in connecting to the networks, it is not very useful. The built in WiFi finder on the iPad provides the same function for free. The only thing missing is the fancy map, but I can live without the map
Unfortunately, since I was unable to get either the App or the Boingo service to work, I cannot recommend this service.