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Thursday, September 25, 2008

'Free' broadband in Japan

One thing I've really enjoyed since arriving back in Japan is being able to watch online videos without having to make numerous cups of tea in order to pass the time they take to buffer. The throttled connections we had at university were probably amongst the slowest in the UK, slower even than my parents' broadband which runs off a remote rural exchange that continues to utilise highly trained rocket-propelled swallows to transfer packets of data.

A recent survey showed that Japan's internet was the fastest in the world, something I can believe having seen adverts for services offering 160mbps connections. Ours runs at about 18Mbps.

3G, as used by mobile devices, is also impressively fast. I regularly clock 1Mbps on my iPhone, which is about 30 times faster than the wireless in the university library back home... (tee hee)

With the contract for our current broadband connection finishing at the end of the month we've been looking around at what's on offer, and have been pretty surprised by how generous the ISPs are. So generous in fact that we've found a deal that essentially means that we almost make money - just by signing up for the connection.

With Nifty we get the first four months free of charge, then pay 6000 yen (£30) per month after that. However, we also get 20,000 yen (£100) in Sakura Store points (which we'll spend on the ink and stuff that we need to buy anyway, exciting huh?), thus by the time we move out next Spring we'll technically be 8000 yen (£40) better off for having signed up for it.

I guess I do feel a bit warmer towards Sakura now. Maybe that's what they're paying us for.

The only negative in all this is the downtime between contracts - up to two weeks without broadband. ...but as we've got an iPhone I don't really see this as much of a problem, and if we're desperate for a connection for our laptops we just need to stand outside Shibuya Station - the whole area seems to be covered by free Wifi.

It's funny how Japanese technology is so far ahead of the UK in some ways (broadband etc), yet so far behind in others (web technology, such as that connected with online banking. You know, if you lose your password for your post office savings account you have to print out a form and send it to the customer service centre in Yokohama...!)

Ho hum. Better go and tell the fridge what to order us for supper from the local supermarket.

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5 Comments:

Blogger Orchid64 said...

I don't think the Japanese are "behind" in web technology like on-line banking and other services that traditionally are offered through brick and mortar places. I think they're services that wouldn't get used. The Japanese are very squeamish about connecting money and Internet services in any way. Many of my students won't even buy items on-line. If it weren't for chaku-barai, I'm sure a lot of places wouldn't be able to run mail order businesses.

25/9/08 21:03  
OpenID cherrysherbet said...

I was looking forward to a fast internet connection in Japan but I'm so remote all I can get here is dial up! :( Though I guess it's fast for dial up...

26/9/08 08:02  
Blogger Joseph said...

orchid64: I hadn't thought of that, but I reckon you're right - I asked *Twinkle* about it and she agreed too. I wonder if things will change - I know it used to be the case in the UK too, but even my sister has started shopping online now!

cherrysherbet: have been following your adventures, and full of respect for you what with the things you're having to deal with, like a class of 60 kindergarten kids!

Your Internet connection provides a great example of just how varied Japan is! Next time I'm in Shikoku I'll bring a long LAN cable with me...

26/9/08 09:16  
OpenID cherrysherbet said...

Haha that would be great, thank you!

I am having a lot of fun here in spite of the fact that I'm still getting used to things and making many stupid mistakes! It's a very new experience here at least! I wish I had some teacher training like CELTA or something though, but I guess a lots of things you have to learn by doing.

It must be so nice finally living together with your wife and sharing a home:)

26/9/08 13:59  
Blogger Joseph said...

cherrysherbet: congrats on surviving the big kindergarten class!

Absolutely, I reckon learning through doing is the best way by far, especially if you make loads of mistakes along the way! Like falling off a surfboard lots of times...

Have fun on the beach :-)

26/9/08 19:19  

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