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143 Tokyo subway stations to have free Wi-Fi beginning in December

24 Comments

The Tokyo Metro and Toei subway companies announced this week that as part of the preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games and to help foreign tourists, they will start providing free Wi-Fi at 143 subway stations throughout the metropolitan area beginning in December.

Of the 143 stations, stations in Roppongi, Asakusa and Ginza have the highest volume of foreign tourists that pass through them, officials said. Many foreign tourists in the past have complained about the inability to use wireless Internet while using public transportation in Tokyo.

Users will need to download the free Japan Connected Free Wi-Fi app before they can access the network. Each session is valid for three hours of service, and there’s no limit on the number of sessions for a single user.

Tokyo Gov Yoichi Masuzoe told a news conference that he hopes the new service will allow foreign visitors to easily navigate the metropolitan area transportation system, TBS reported.

Free Wi-Fi service has been available on all 1,452 Toei buses operated by the Tokyo metropolitan government since March.

© Japan Today

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24 Comments
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Japan is getting better and better. Here in the DC metro area, train and bus stations/terminals have no toilets. I eat my breakfast after I arrive at work for fear of the call of nature. I call their buses the 'nicotine express",(people smoke to the very last minute before they board the bus), and the stations the "ashtray stations" because they have plenty of cigarette butts all over.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

A welcome move, but subway stations aren't the right venues. Japan's stations offer little space and extremely few places to sit down, and the few benches that do exist are 99 percent occupied by weary commuters. Subway journeys are typically short.

I ride the subways a lot and rarely get the opportunity to 1) get a seat, and 2) have time enough to fire up the laptop.

Appropriate locations are parks, plazas, lobbies coffee shops, intercity trains, even temple grounds. Speaking of which, the city needs a lot more public benches on and around the streets.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Welcome to the year 2005 Tokyo.

0 ( +8 / -8 )

I am not sure that that is a good idea. Subway stations are crowded as they are... the last thing I need there are people sitting around with their laptops. Nothing wrong with free WiFi spots, but why in the subway??

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

The reason why there are comparatively few free WiFi hotspots in Japan is down to the protective practices of the major phone companies. If free WiFi were widespread, who would pay the exorbitant "pakehoudai" LTE fees?

12 ( +12 / -0 )

This is a welcome event. Now there will be even more zombies to walk into.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

My question is, will the app be in English? Somehow, I doubt it!

-19 ( +0 / -19 )

@Disillusioned

We've had the ap for quite a while on the Fukuoka subway. It' s in English, Japanese, Korean and both styles of Chinese.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

the last thing I need there are people sitting around with their laptops

People travel with their phones by default, and tablets too. This will save them from roaming data charges.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Only because of the olympics sheesh welcome to 21st century

1 ( +3 / -2 )

The optimist in me wants to hope that it will truly be free and useful for travelers. The realist knows that once connected, the user will get a "log in with your docomo/softbank account" screen in Japanese only.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

@JeffLee

I ride the subways a lot and rarely get the opportunity to 1) get a seat, and 2) have time enough to fire up the laptop.

Appropriate locations are parks, plazas, lobbies coffee shops, intercity trains, even temple grounds. Speaking of which, the city needs a lot more public benches on and around the streets.

I think this is more for helping visitors getting around Japan, accessing information and maps from their phones. The things you mention would be nice for those of us living in Japan, but for short-time visitors, they just want to get from one destination to the next. If they just want to lounge around in parks on their laptops, they've come to the wrong place.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It would be a very desperate cheapskate who logs onto these free wifis using their laptop in a subway station. The article states that it requires a smartphone application (probably for authentication), and it is directly aimed at those travelers who get to the station and then want to pull up a map of the area or a guide to what is around them.

As for Japan playing catchup, free wifi in public areas is both a security risk (for those using it), and it is in almost every single case slower than molasses. Am constantly disappointed when i get to foreign countries with all their "wonderful free wifi spots" only to realise i cant even pull up google results due to congestion

MVNO's are jumping ahead in leaps and bounds now, you can get visitor sim cards for 3000yen with 1-2gb data these days. By the time the olympics come around it will be 1000yen or less. That is what i am looking forward to!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

If they just want to lounge around in parks on their laptops, they've come to the wrong place.

Well, then they should go to Thailand or Vietnam instead. I travel to a lot to such tourist-friendly places , and the tourist districts are full of travelers lounging in cafes and public spaces with their laptops, as well as tablets. In Bangkok, if I see a foreigner using a smartphone on a crowded train, I assume he/she is an expat resident.

Photos/video editing and management, Skype, blogging, etc., among the most common IT activities by tourists, are easiest and most commonly done on laptops in a relaxing environment. Printing out maps and guidebook info from devices is also common, I've noticed.

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

I travel to a lot to such tourist-friendly places

Why not stay there?

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Good stuff. I probably won't use it as all the subway lines around Rops and Akasaka already have underground 4G coverage and that tends to be 100 times faster than any free wifi

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Weird - I've been using WiFi on the Toei subway for several months. No app needed, just a simple log-in screen in Japanese and English. It's certainly available at stations on the Hanzomon and Ginza lines (though maybe not all). It's a bit step forward for Japan, it must be a real pain in the backside to be a tourist here and not be able to access the internet easily.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Am constantly disappointed when i get to foreign countries with all their "wonderful free wifi spots" only to realise i cant even pull up google results due to congestion.

...which is a valid point. Anyone who has tried to use WiFi in Melbourne's Federation Square can testify to this.

On the other hand:

As for Japan playing catchup, free wifi in public areas is both a security risk

Is tin foil hattery. The reason we don't have unsecured wireless in our homes is to prevent wardrivers from accessing our networks or downloading kiddie porn. While it may be easier for someone to sniff our wireless packets on an open network, does our information become secure once it reaches the WAN / internet?

I don't think so.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

The reason we don't have unsecured wireless in our homes is to prevent wardrivers from accessing our networks or downloading kiddie porn. While it may be easier for someone to sniff our wireless packets on an open network, does our information become secure once it reaches the WAN / internet?

This is only partially correct. Data transmission is much less secure on a local network than when it reaches the WAN. At home, you generally know the other people on your network, and can trust them, but on a public network, anyone can be connected, and therefore your risk increases exponentially. Install the firesheep plugin for Firefox some day and then go on a public network and just look at the information that is available from people who don't know how to secure themselves.

The way to be safe on a public network is to use a VPN, so that all data passing through the network is encrypted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

But free wifi's been available on the subway for over a year - in ten-minute sessions only. I've been using it for ages. It's painfully slow but better than nothing.

What's happening is just an update of the system. I used it last night, and had to give my email address to register. Then I tried again later and had to do the same thing. There appear to be a couple of wrinkles in the system which need sorting out by December.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Wow, welcome to the 21st century Japan. You've just joined the modern days. Other countries in Asia have had free wi-fi's in buses and trains since like mid 2000's, over ten years ago. And most of the time you don't even need to install some stupid app that's probably designed so that some Japanese oyaji can keep an eye on you. What happened to Japan's reputation as a technological powerhouse?

0 ( +5 / -5 )

@ReformedBasher

"- I travel to a lot to such tourist-friendly places...

Why not stay there?"

I do stay there, for extended periods from time to time. I take my laptop and phone and can get work done, because nearly all the hotels and cafes, etc. have free unlimited wifi.

Clients back in Japan usually don't mind too much, depending on the period. For example, I find that leaving Japan before Christmas and then coming back in late Jan. is ideal. Great flight availability , avoid the cold and Japanese businesses are either winding down or gearing up around that period anyway.

Anyway, your chip-on-the-shoulder comment is totally unrelated to the article.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

@JeffLee

Well good for you.

Anyway, your chip-on-the-shoulder comment is totally unrelated to the article.

Yes. I'm almost surprised it's still here but can't muster sufficient interest.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Great! More people walking off the platform.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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