My wife had a business trip to Japan. Because of this, we researched about international phone plans in Japan.
Our phones were T-mobile, but T-mobile has a really bad connection even if you are in town. T-mobile also has a free international roaming in Japan, but many people say the phone data speed is very slow. 320 kbps? It sounded like edge mode. If there is no internet, then there is no point in using a smartphone.
So we decided to change T-mobile to AT&T and purchase the “AT&T Passport Silver” plan for $60. This plan includes;
- A one time charge. Package automatically expires after 30 days.
- Unlimited text, picture and video.
- Talk ($0.50/min)
- Cellular data: 300MB. Overage $0.20/MB
- Unlimited WiFi access
We expected “Unlimited WiFi access” accessibility in Japan. Unfortunately, this feature didn’t work well, because the accessibility depends on the Japanese cellular company’s WiFi service you are connected to at the time. AT&T can offer the connection but cannot offer the passcode of the WiFi if the Japanese cellular company offers only passcode required WiFi. We need to get the passcode somehow. My wife could use Softbank WiFi, but could not use Docomo WiFi which required a passcode. I called AT&T and they said we should ask Docomo for the passcode. However, Docomo doesn’t mention anything about such a roaming service on their web site. Maybe we have to visit their store for the passcode (Maybe we have to ask in Japanese and their store is always busy). And I’m not sure that a store person would understand about the AT&T and Docomo agreement.
Anyway, this “Unlimited WiFi access” turns out to be meaningless because Softbank already offers free WiFi for travelers. It sounds like a temporary service until 2016 from several websites. There may not be many WiFi spots, but I remember seeing Softbank WiFi spots often when I live in Tokyo 4 years ago.
However, there is more nice service available in Japan now called the “Japan Connected Free Wi-Fi” program, which offers free WiFi for travelers from several companies. It requires a registration, though. All you have to do is install the iPhone App/Android App and you can find WiFi spots and connect through the app. I think we didn’t need AT&T Passport silver plan in the end.