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Advice for Choosing a Service

Q. I'm confused by all the choices. Which service should I apply for?

A. Which service is best for you depends on a number of factors. This page will explain the two most popular options, ADSL and Hikari (fiber optic) in the simplest terms and give general advice on getting the best service for the money.

Before reading this page, however, you should understand that some of the services mentioned here may not even be available at your location. The first step, before doing anything, should be to ask BBapply to make an Availability Check on your location.

You will receive a detailed report showing which ADSL and Hikari services are available there with a full explanation of the costs. If you still have questions then, about what it all means, you can come back here to review this advice.

To request an Availability Report, go here: Availability Check

Overview of Services

Before you can determine which provider is best for you, you need to understand how providers differ, what the differences mean, and how that affects your choice.

Providers & Providers

Perhaps the most confusing part of getting connected in Japan is figuring out who's doing what. Unlike many other countries, the provision of internet service is divided into two parts--usually provided by different companies--both of which you need to be connected.

Here are the two parts:

  • Internet Carrier Services provide the actual connection, such as ADSL or fiber optic.
  • Internet Service Providers, or ISP, provide the User ID and Password as well as technical support and email service, etc.

A few large companies such as SoftBank (Yahoo! BB) provide both Carrier and ISP services. Most ISPs, however, work together with NTT's Flet's.

It's important to understand that you must contract for both a Carrier Service and an ISP service whether they are provided by one company or two.

BBapply's Role

BBapply is neither of the above. We are application agents for both of the top national Carrier Services, Yahoo! BB and Flet's as well as the Internet Services Providers that are most popular with foreigners, ASAHI Net, OCN, and Yahoo! BB.

Because we represent both carriers and ISPs, we are able to arrange the whole package for you. This also means that when we state prices, you will see the price for the whole combined package, not just one part of the package as is common in most advertisments.

We are paid by the companies for referring customers so there is no extra charge to you. The cost is the same whether you apply through us or directly to the companies.

Because we represent all the top connection and service providers, we're able to let you know which is the best deal at your location. If you apply directly to one of the connection services or an ISP, the advice you receive will be based on what's best for them.

The Availability Report

One of the ways we help you decide is by giving you a detailed report that let's you know how much it will really cost. On other sites or advertisements you may see, the costs are very difficult to understand. They are difficult to understand because, in most cases, two companies, each with its own costs, combine to provide the connection and:

  • Many or most advertisements list only the costs of the company providing part of the service leaving the customer to discover the cost of the other company on their own.
  • Many types and grades of service are available and it's hard to connect the service you want or need to the advertised prices.
  • Costs vary depending on the area where you live.

It cannot be said that such advertisments are untruthful or inaccurate but they do seem to take advantage of the complication, especially when showing the prices of only one part (company) of the actual costs. BBapply cuts through all the complication and gives you the bottom line cost on the services available to you.

We also provide detailed info in English about how to get online once the connection is made and how to use the services.

Yahoo! BB and Flet's

The two most popular internet connection services in Japan are ADSL and fiber optic, or Hikari, as fiber optic is known here in Japan. The top two providers of ADSL and Hikari service are SoftBank through its Yahoo! BB brand and NTT through its Flet's brand.

BBapply is an authorized agent for both Yahoo! BB and Flet's and therefore is able to arrange any of the four services. The services are not all equal in cost and speed, of course, and not all services are available in all locations.

This page explains, in a general way, the differences in cost and availability between the services and makes general recommendations for choosing the best service for your situation and desire.

Yahoo! BB is the leader in the ADSL market with the best service offerings and, especially, campaign benefits for new applicants. Flet's, on the other hand, is the clear leader in the Hikari (fiber optic) market with an overwhelming market share. Flet's Hikari is available in nearly all urban areas and is also now reaching most smaller towns and rural areas.

ADSL vs. Hikari

Hikari

Hikari (fiber optic) service comes in two main types.

  • "Family," a standalone type where fiber wiring is pulled directly from the street into a house or apartment. Family-type connections require permission from the owner or manager of the building.
  • "Mansion," a shared type where the fiber wiring is brought from the street to a server device installed in the apartment or office building that, in turn, delivers the signal to each apartment.

    Note that even though "mansion" means "apartment house" in Japanese, Family-type can be used in mansions where Mansion-type is not installed if the owner gives permission.

There is no significant speed difference between Family and Mansion types but there is a big difference in price. Family-type is more expensive than either ADSL or Mansion. Mansion-type is less expensive than both Family-type Hikari and all but the slowest varieties of ADSL.

Therefore, if your building has Mansion-type Hikari installed, it's the best of both worlds: top speed at the lowest price.

Over 50% of all apartment buildings we have checked recently now have Mansion-type installed and, by far, the majority of those are Flet's Hikari. And, because it's already installed in the building, connections can usually done within about two weeks. Family-type, on the other hand, varies greatly in time to connection. In some areas it can be done is as little as two weeks but in other areas, it can take two months or more.

ADSL

ADSL comes in a variety of speeds and is provided using the metal telephone wiring system. It can be used with or without landline telephone service. When Mansion-type Hikari is not installed in the building and the owner refuses permission to bring in fiber optic wiring, then ADSL will be the best choice.

If you have landline telephone service connected and working, then the time to connection for ADSL is very quick–a week to ten days. If you don't have a landline, then it generally takes three or four weeks to connect.

Yahoo! BB and Flet's have similar ADSL services and prices, but Yahoo! BB has much better campaign benefits. In fact, there are no campaign benefits for Flet's ADSL. Also, Yahoo! BB is also significantly easier to setup and configure.

Making the choice

Residents of Apartments

If you reside in an apartment building, there is a good chance (above 50%) that Mansion-type Hikari is already installed in the building. If so, then that will usually be the best choice. If Mansion-type is not installed, then Family-type Hikari will be the best choice if permission can be obtained. (BBapply will help you get permission.)

Residents of Homes

For residents of single-family houses, Mansion-type is not an option so the choice is between ADSL and Family-type Hikari. While ADSL may be easier to connect, especially if you have landline service, Family-type Hikari may be less expensive due to the very aggressive discounts offered by Flet's for the first two years of service.

The actual speed of ADSL depends on the user's distance from the server located in the telephone exchange building and the vast majority of users are located within three or four kilometers of the server. For those users, the actual speed they receive will be between 3 and 50 Mbps. That is from 50 to 1000 times faster than dial-up connections.

So, if you live in a single-family house and you want maximum speed, then you should apply for Flet's Family Hikari. On the other hand, if the cost of the connection is an issue and you do not have to have the fastest speed possible, then applying for one of Yahoo! BB's slower versions may be the best way to go.

Regardless of which service you apply for, if we think you might be making an unwise selection (e.g., you chose a service that is more expensive than another that is equal in speed or better), we'll let you know before filing the application.

Questions

If you have any questions that aren't answered here or elsewhere in the FAQ, please feel free to Contact me.

Jimmie

To request an Availability Report, go here: Availability Check

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