Photo: Pakutaso
tech

Japanese companies to be banned from locking cell phone SIM cards

77 Comments
By Ingrid Tsai, SoraNews24

Unlocking your cell phone provides an assortment of advantages. From being able to switch phone carriers more easily to staying out of device debt, folks who move overseas are especially familiar with the process.

In Japan, however, while unlocking your smartphone isn’t illegal, the nation’s three big phone companies, Docomo, SoftBank and AU, make it extremely difficult to do. From contract stipulations to essentially forcing customers to purchase a brand new smartphone along with a network plan, getting a cell phone can be a real headache in Japan.

Luckily for all smartphone users, though, Japanese phone companies will soon be banned from locking cell phone SIM cards.

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Photo: Pakutaso

Decided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication on August 10, the new policy is in effect starting from October. Previously, if you wanted to go through the hoops to unlock your phone, your phone would have to technically be paid off whether you bought it from the phone company with a lump sum or finished all your monthly payments, and your contract with a network carrier fulfilled. Now thanks to this new upcoming policy, smartphone users will have more freedom to switch network carriers and reuse their devices, which will certainly save them some money.

Now what if you just happen to purchase a cell phone along with a more restrictive plan from one of Japan’s big three network carriers before October? In that case, your contract will be liable to last until October 2023, though after that time period phone companies are legally obligated to dissolve it for free if requested.

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Photo: Pakutaso

Naturally, this is a blow for Japan’s big network carriers as they can no longer “lock” in customers to their cell phone plans, and certainly folks will be saving money in the long run by not having to change their smartphone device every time they change carriers.

Source: Jiji via Hachima Kiko

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© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

77 Comments
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AU refused to unlock my phone even after the stipulated period.

They are useless

31 ( +34 / -3 )

I've had my current phone for 8 years - my contract rolls over every 2 years so does this mean I need to wait until the current 2 year period ends before I can end it, or can I end it now?

9 ( +10 / -1 )

It's about time!

28 ( +28 / -0 )

I've had my current phone for 8 years - my contract rolls over every 2 years so does this mean I need to wait until the current 2 year period ends before I can end it, or can I end it now?

You should be able to break the contract at anytime, However, depending upon the contract, you may have to pay a fee for doing so. BUT after October, at least according to the article, it should be free!

6 ( +9 / -3 )

Decided by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication on August 10, the new policy is in effect starting from October. Previously, if you wanted to go through the hoops to unlock your phone, your phone would have to technically be paid off whether you bought it from the phone company with a lump sum or finished all your monthly payments, and your contract with a network carrier fulfilled. Now thanks to this new upcoming policy, smartphone users will have more freedom to switch network carriers and reuse their devices, which will certainly save them some money.

So if the phone isnt paid off then they have no obligation to unlock the phone.

Now what if you just happen to purchase a cell phone along with a more restrictive plan from one of Japan’s big three network carriers before October? In that case, your contract will be liable to last until October 2023, though after that time period phone companies are legally obligated to dissolve it for free if requested.

This is major as well, and should be highlighted and not stuck at the end of this article!

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Wow, is Japan finally modernizing? This is huuuuuuuge news!

19 ( +21 / -2 )

I got Softbank to "unlock" my old handset about 4 years ago and then tried using it on a trip to Canada. With a local SIM, calls were fine but data - which I paid for - didn't work at all.

It turned out Softbank only unlocked calls and kept data locked, which they didnt tell me. The Canadian carrier's support person at first couldn't figure it out. After a while, after we determined the problem, he couldn't believe it. I simply told him, "That's Softbank for you."

It's now very satisfying to hear the Japanese government are not going to let Softbank get away with its evil ways. Although, I suspect it will figure out new ways of making the lives of its customers miserable.

30 ( +30 / -0 )

It's all money! The Japanese Telcos are ripping off millions from people without being challenged.

I had a contract with Softbank. I bought a phone with a two year plan to pay for it. After the two years the phone had been paid for and I challenged them as to why my monthly bill hadn't reduced by the amount to pay off the phone. They could not and would not give me an answer. The only answer I got was, this is your contract. They would not budge at all! Then, after four years of the contract I decided to leave Japan. I wanted to have my phone unlocked so I could take it with me overseas. They told me I had to pay ¥30,000 to cancel my contract and a further ¥20,000 to unlock the phone. This was 2019. I told them that the fees are more than the phone is worth. As a result, I just smashed the phone and threw it in the garbage. I bought a secondhand phone and a prepaid SIM for ¥40,000. I still have the phone. The Japanese Telcos are just ripping people off and have been getting away with it for years because nobody challenges them.

23 ( +24 / -1 )

Gratefully, more ‘past due’ changes to some ‘one-sided’, unfair ‘business’ practices in Japan!

*- “This is major as well, and should be highlighted and not stuck at the end of this article!” -*

That’s the way it always is @Yubaru 6:32amAny ‘caveats or disclaimers’ are ‘mentioned‘ last, sometimes dismissing the whole point of the headline and text. (Dare not use the term for that, though.)

3 ( +4 / -1 )

To be fair, and in the interest of accurate reporting, the are not locking the "SIM card" they lock the device to their network ID. Use any SIM you like as long as it's from their company. The device is locked, not the card. I only assume whomever wrote the article isn't familiar with the tech, and did no research before hitting 'publish'.

25 ( +25 / -0 )

Ive only used FREETEL mobile, now rakuten mobile, pay as you go, no contract. can get a sim for any phone. no problem. never needed au, softbank, or docomo.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

I have always said that DoCoMo my carrier is the worst of the three, I am sure they already have a new TRICK up their dirty sleeves and will use it to keep their customer sucked in their plans.

Recently the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication is beginning to work for the people and NOT the 3 networks, a good sign for the people of Japan, and thank you JT for publishing the story.

15 ( +15 / -0 )

This is what I did for my kids and will soon do for my self.

Buy your new phone from Apple store UNLOCKED, do NOT buy from the providers this way they have NO control over anything. You Are FREE.

Use your current SIM card from your provider to operate your NEW phone.

Now you have an unlocked phone & you are free to choose any provider.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

What about that complete changing of the process that often was to hear or read about in earlier news, no more SIM cards at all, everything only on an internal phone chip or even online only? It’s becoming silent about that, hasn’t it? Does maybe anyone here know something more about that and could say something to us?

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I let my contract end and used the open one month change period and switched to IJ Mio. Now for about ¥4500 a month I got the phone unlocked by buying it straight away and get unlimited Internet at home and a phone. Dropped JCom. Saving ¥5500 a month due to no jcom.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

no more SIM cards at all

What could we call this? Hmmm...how about eSim?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I got away from the big 3 years ago.

Bought an unlocked Asus dual SIM and haven't looked back

The main problem is that unless you purchase a "Japanese" model usually only available through the big 3 you cannot use Felica or install it on non official Japanese mobile phones.

Even my daughter's phone which is the same model as the ones available through the big 3 but bought through a Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) like UQ mobile, etc... Are not compatible with Felica ( or at least the app is blocked from working on those phones.

So things like suica, Passmo, etc... Cannot be used on phones not purchased through the big 3.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

JoeintokyoToday  09:04 am JST

no more SIM cards at all

What could we call this? Hmmm...how about eSim?

eSim sounds great until your phone has a problem and stops working suddenly.

This happened to my wife's phone and the only option is to go to the provider and either get lucky and they fix the phone quickly or transfer the eSim to another phone.

As a physical SIM as I have experienced I just pop it into my old phone and am up and running until I can get the not working phone looked at.

eSim remind me of a old all in on PC sound great but if one part no mater how minor stops working you have to send the entire machine in and didn't have a computer.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

This is what I did for my kids and will soon do for my self.

Buy your new phone from Apple store UNLOCKED, do NOT buy from the providers this way they have NO control over anything. You Are FREE.

Use your current SIM card from your provider to operate your NEW phone.

Now you have an unlocked phone & you are free to choose any provider.

I did the same and agree with you 100% but what about the people that can’t afford to buy the phone in one lump sum? They’re screwed and locked into these contracts sadly.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I got 100 of thousands minutes and text,with a no contract plan,can pay 125 dollars for a year plan, without paying them more

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Antiquesaving

Good point. I would probably only use my phone's eSim if I really needed a second line.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

getting a cell phone can be a real headache in Japan.

Getting even a data sim isn't easy.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Yes, thanks, that’s what they called it, eSIM. lol What is that hype about and doesn’t it even further restrict our normal customers’ influence or possibilities?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I don't really own my AU iPhone because I'm on a two-year upgrade program. New phone every two years. No advantage from unlocking it. Already on a phone/20GB data plan POVO for ¥2,480.

A contract is no longer needed and one can be cancelled for ¥1,000.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

As Mat says, they are locking the phone to a certain kind of SIM, not locking the card itself. The handset should still work on an MVNO that uses the same network (mineo/UQ for au, OCN/Biglobe etc. for docomo)

Just as importantly, phone companies also lock you into contracts that can only be broken without a penalty, typically 10,000 yen, for a short period every two years. Outside that window, you gotta pay. For many people, this window of opportunity would not line up with their purchase of a handset in installments, so leaving would mean paying a contract penalty and/or a remaining balance on a handset they had been told was "free". When faced with paying to leave a provider, many people would then just give up.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Buy your new phone from Apple store UNLOCKED, do NOT buy from the providers this way they have NO control over anything. You Are FREE.

Free from Docomo/AU/Softbank perhaps but not free from Apple.

You can buy the top Sony, Samsung, Huawei, Pixel unlocked devices off any website like Amazon,Rakuten etc for way less than an overpriced Apple-phone.

Warranty is better, there's less chance you need repairs ( as they are built to last longer) and "cospa" is generally way better. Why limit yourself to one company, which is not even the best?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When I moved here last year and wanted to get a Japanese cell I was quite turned off by how strict the plans were here, so in the end I ended up just buying a cheap no contract phone just to get the Japanese phone # and it was like 20,000 one time and no contract and no further fees, just have to pay to add minutes. I've kept my American cell phone active as they offer me 15GB of data a month at 4G speed for $45 a month, so I use it for internet when I am not using free WiFi and it's rare that I'm not on free WiFi. Glad Japan is waking up to unlimited data plans and now hopefully no contracts, like in the US.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Zichi,this sounds very interesting. I'm technically a dweeb, so I have a couple of questions which are probably dumb, but bear with me.

Is this an AU contract? Does it only work with iPhones? (Thinking of if I change to the one your refer to from my current UQ contract on an Android phone).

If you travel overseas, can you use it with a locally bought sim?

Also, if you don't need a contract, why do you need to pay to cancel it?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just changed to DoCoMo and they told me that I could change to new company anytime and no charge.

Not sure if this means I need new Sim Card ?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So things like suica, Passmo, etc... Cannot be used on phones not purchased through the big 3

I wasn't aware of this because I don't use those services. I presume that because they won't be able to simlock their phones after October, they will have to allow Felica to be installed on any phone.

Your problem should be solved in a month or two.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

I just changed to DoCoMo and they told me that I could change to new company anytime and no charge.

Not sure if this means I need new Sim Card ?

What they say in the store and what is in the contract may not be the same thing.

Read your contract well, I had similar assurances and the contract was not what the sales person told me it was.

And no you need a new SIM card for a different company even if that company like Umobile uses the Docomo network.

Not sure if this new rule eliminates the "number portability fee" this is the fee each carrier charges you you "release" your present phone number so you can use the same number on a different carrier.

This is different from unlocking fee.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

as_the_crow_flies

@Zichi,

Is this an AU contract? Does it only work with iPhones? (Thinking of if I change to the one your refer to from my current UQ contract on an Android phone).

I have an AU contract but I can also have the same deal without the contract. I think by having the contract I save about ¥170/month. In my case, I was with Orange/Vodaphone/AU for more than a decade so I'm unlikely to want to change. You can cancel the contract at any time for ¥1,000.

AU works with all phones.

All three major companies now have DATA plans. phone/DATA 20GB for around ¥2,500. The AU one is called POVO. To join one of these you must apply online. In my case, I ended my business with AU except for the iPhone model. AU shops are not owned by AU and are independent contractors. They receive no money from AU so they no longer will help POVO customers. So you need to be able to do everything online yourself. Working out for us and saved about ¥4,000/month on the previous plan.

If you travel overseas, can you use it with a locally bought sim?

I have not travelled overseas in some time. Unlocked you would have to use roaming services which tend to be expensive. If overseas is a priority buy an unlocked phone then make a POVO contract with AU.

Also, if you don't need a contract, why do you need to pay to cancel it?

You only pay to cancel a contract. These days there are no real benefits from having a contract.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japan smartphone carriers are stopped from doing one of their many flagrant criminal behaviors. Small applause. How about all the other crimes they commit?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not sure if this new rule eliminates the "number portability fee"

No, that will still be there even if you use the same handset with your new carrier. I think they will make the MNP thing a bit simpler given time. Ideally you should be able to sign up for a new carrier anytime you want with any phone and that automatically cancels your previous contract for free. And it should be seamless and instant.

It's taken a few years, but the government have slowly improved the situation by making contract cancellation easier and cheaper, making number portability easier and now making handsets easier to use with other carriers.

My guess is though that it will only lead to a slow trickle of customers leaving the big 3. For most people it's all a bit 'mendokusai' to change even though it could save them a couple of months rent every year. The big 3 also have their network of stores where people can sort out their phone issues without having to think about it too much (for a hefty fee)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichiToday  10:42 am JST

AU works with all phones.

I may be wrong but as recently as last month UQ mobile (uses AU network) told us when trying to change my mother in law's phone over that phones for Docomo and SoftBank networks were not compatible with AU network.

Not sure if this applies to every phone but as far as I understood this has been something to do with the type of system they use.

I imagine that some phones support both systems but how well, I don't know.

This was not the first time I was told this, years back when I changed from AU to U-mobile ( Docomo network) I was told the same thing

Perhaps things have changed but just last month we got the same information.

They knew we had no plans on buying a new phone and said we we would go elsewhere so I don't see why they would say this if it wasn't true.

We went with another MVNO using the Docomo network.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Bought an iPhone from Apple store online in Japan and got a sim card from yahoo. Super cheap and easy.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

ClippetyClopToday  10:58 am JST

My guess is though that it will only lead to a slow trickle of customers leaving the big 3. For most people it's all a bit 'mendokusai' to change even though it could save them a couple of months rent every year. The big 3 also have their network of stores where people can sort out their phone issues without having to think about it too much (for a hefty fee)

I will agree for the older generation but those my children's age ( under 30) they are far more tech savvy.

My children and their friends, jumped ship from the big 3 long ago buying handsets online and going with MVNO like DMM mobile, UQ mobile, Umobile, etc... These younger people nearly never actually make a phone call or use texting, opting for Line type apps and cheaper Data plans.

This move is only going to increase the number of younger users to leave the big 3.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Should have been done from the start. Vendor lock-in is a feature of Japanese products and services, not a bug.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Is Felica/Pasmo some kind of encrypted NFC chip or simply an app running on standard NFC? Non-Japanese market handsets may not have the necessary hardware. Non-Japanese handsets don't have the hardware for receiving Japanese "one seg" digital TV broadcasts, but that is not an issue for most people.

AU traditionally used CDMA signals and still uses different bands to docomo. You can look up what bands each handset is compatible with from its serial number. You need the serial number, not the model number, because the same model in different countries may have a different antenna. In the olden days certainly, some au handsets had different antennas to the same model from docomo. Note that some cheap providers like Mineo (traditionally au only) now let you choose an au or docomo connection.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I see many people still don't know the full picture how phones work and what sort of locks they have. Japanese phone have both a phone lock and a SIM lock. AU use CDMA network which is not compatible with GSM. So if you buy a AU phone, unlock it you'll still not be able to use any carrier. You'll have to find a CDMA carrier in order to use the phone which means no SoftBank or Docomo as they are on GSM network.

That's why when you change to a MVNO plan they ask you if you want to use Docomo network or AU network.

The SIM cards are locked too, you can't just pop it in and use it within a minute after purchasing it. First you'll have to download the app of the SIM provider then get into the settings and kinda make the phone accept the card through changing some of the settings which can take like 15 minutes. This shows that the SIM card has a lock as well which can only be activated through a set of instructions.

If the writer is correct and this SIM lock disappears then you can truly buy/order a SIM card, pop it in, turn on your phone and use it like in most Western countries

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I switched over from AU to Mineo about 5 years ago and have since never looked back I usually pay about 1500 yen per month now, which increases depending on how many calls I make. Internet is limited to about 5 GB per month and is a bit slow at times, but Mineo offers different ways, both free of charge and paying, to get more data if needed.

I remember the process at the time being a bit tedious, as I needed to get a MNP, and a my first ever Japanese credit card too. That process in itself took a bit of time, but I made it eventually and saw it through because I knew the cheaper fees would be worth it.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

AntiquesavingT

zichiToday 10:42 am JST

AU works with all phones.

I may be wrong but as recently as last month UQ mobile (uses AU network) told us when trying to change my mother in law's phone over that phones for Docomo and SoftBank networks were not compatible with AU network.

I was not clear enough on that point. What I meant was all models sold by AU which includes iPhone and Androids. Otherwise, you would need an unlocked phone and even all unlocked phones may not work depending on the age and model.

Not sure if this applies to every phone but as far as I understood this has been something to do with the type of system they use.

No, it does not apply to the OS.

I imagine that some phones support both systems but how well, I don't know.

? One phone, one system.

The new plans by the big three are very good. Phone/20GB DATA ¥2,500. But you have to learn how to solve some of your own problems and not going into a shop. All the shops are independent contractors.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Lorem ipsum

I switched over from AU to Mineo about 5 years ago and have since never looked back I usually pay about 1500 yen per month now, which increases depending on how many calls I make. Internet is limited to about 5 GB per month and is a bit slow at times, but Mineo offers different ways, both free of charge and paying, to get more data if needed.

MVNO and 5 years on are all more expensive than the new MVNO plans from the big three carriers.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichiToday  12:45 pm JST

As I said I was not sure but what

The NomadToday  12:24 pm JST

Pointed out seems to still apply.

Switching from AU network to Docomo/SoftBank seems problematic.

AU use CDMA network which is not compatible with GSM. So if you buy a AU phone, unlock it you'll still not be able to use any carrier. You'll have to find a CDMA carrier in order to use the phone which means no SoftBank or Docomo as they are on GSM network.

As recently as last month this was still the case.

I have a non Japanese phone has both but the available compatible bands on AU makes it virtually useless ( if I remember correctly only 2 bands ) so no point in using AU or UQ mobile ( uses AU network).

It isn't as black and white at it seems.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Linemo, Ahamo, Povo or Rakuten Un-Limit: Which New Phone Plan is Right for You?

https://blog.gaijinpot.com/linemo-ahamo-povo-or-rakuten-un-limit-which-new-phone-plan-is-right-for-you/

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Me: "I want to start a SIM only contract. I already have an unlocked phone compatible with your frequencies"

International Telco: "Thank you for your money, here is your connected SIM. I'm sure you'll be able to work out what to do"

Me: "I want to start a SIM only contract. I already have an unlocked phone compatible with your frequencies"

Japanese Telco: (Sound of air being sucked through teeth) "Muzukashii desu ne. Is it one of our phones? Is is a Japanese domestic phone? It might not work. We can't support it if you cant get the settings right . . . . . . . ."

Japanese telcos are the experts in saying No . . . . without actually saying No.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The NomadToday  12:24 pm JST

I see many people still don't know the full picture how phones work and what sort of locks they have. Japanese phone have both a phone lock and a SIM lock. AU use CDMA network which is not compatible with GSM. So if you buy a AU phone, unlock it you'll still not be able to use any carrier. You'll have to find a CDMA carrier in order to use the phone which means no SoftBank or Docomo as they are on GSM network. 

That is old, old information. GSM or CDMA has not been used for years anymore. The networks are still there but nobody uses them anymore with a modern cell phone.

The technology everyone is using is called WCDMA (3G) and LTE (4G) and all of the operators in Japan have them. As long as the frequency bands are supported by the phone, it will work just fine in any of the networks.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I thought this would make it easy, but the comments seem to indicate it isn’t.

I bought an LG phone from AU two years ago. I thought they unlocked it but when I took it to Thailand, they told me in Thailand, “No, it’s still locked”.

Don’t want that to happen again. Any tips? Thanks much.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

InspectorGadgetToday  01:09 pm JST

Never ask the big 3 anything about a phone that is not theirs.

The trick is to contact a MVNO like DMM, U-mobile, etc.. (Docomo network) or UQ mobile, etc... (AU network) give them your phone information they require and they will tell you if it is compatible.

Once you know it is compatible with DMM or UQ mobile etc.. then you know it will work on Docomo/SoftBank or AU.

They don't sell locked phones ( as far as I know) so they don't care what phone or where you got your phone from.

Getting I living person to answer you may be a bit more difficult but I have had no trouble getting a quick reply over their chat systems.

I buy my phones online and just drop in my SIM cards, I use dual SIM one private one business different carrier because different plans as I don't need phone calls on private but unfortunately my mostly older clientele are still using phones so I have to make phone calls.

2 phone numbers 2 SIM , SIM one data plan 10 GB no free calls. SIM 2 unlimited calls no data plan cost me ¥ 3,000 a month, if I could drop the phone calls I would drop unlimited calls and be at under ¥2,000 a month.

But my clients are old and not about to change any time soon.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

JoeintokyoToday  09:04 am JST

no more SIM cards at all

What could we call this? Hmmm...how about eSim?

simulated sim? simsim for short. or, to be topical, quasi-sim.... or, since the big three are comliit in keeping the market fairly-well controlled, simplicit-e.... (^_-)

0 ( +0 / -0 )

InspectorGadgetToday  01:09 pm JST

*Me: **"I want to start a SIM only contract. I already have an unlocked phone compatible with your frequencies"*

This is not as simple as it seems, they are only protecting you and them.

As you might know, cell phones sold in different parts of the world support different frequency bands. For example, your brand new Non-iphone Japanese phone cannot get 4G in the US due to this. Also supported CA combinations are, in general, NOT in your phone from a different market.

So they are right to make sure that if it does not work, they cannot help you and are not liable for anything.

I bought a sim during last visit to the US and only 3G was possible due to the bands not supported. The phone was from the world’s biggest handset maker and popular model.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

got fed up with Docomo years back, bought an unlocked fone online, signed up with Asahinet (insluding English support, up to a point), paying half what I payed previously.... and am about to switch to Sakura as they offer a plan that suits my usage better..... very cheap....

always gobsmacked when I visit he UK, how easy (and cheap) it all is. just pop into a newsagent, a supermarket, almost anywhere, buy a sim (choice of many plans), pay, done!

a pity that Japan hasn't figured out that being competitive, and offering good service for a reasonable price (and not just re: fones) can be profitable. 鎖国lives!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

MVNO and 5 years on are all more expensive than the new MVNO plans from the big three carriers.

Thanks for letting me know. I had no idea since I haven't checked this stuff after switching. But to be honest, I'm content with what I have now as it meets my needs both in terms of price and service.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Weiwei

"That is old, old information. GSM or CDMA has not been used for years anymore. The networks are still there but nobody uses them anymore with a modern cell phone.

The technology everyone is using is called WCDMA (3G) and LTE (4G) and all of the operators in Japan have them. As long as the frequency bands are supported by the phone, it will work just fine in any of the networks."

LTE is based on GSM network and WCDMA is based on CDMA, it's just an upgraded version. If you have a phone with only CDMA or WCDMA band but not GSM or LTE then you won't be able to switch between the two. Also in Japan most companies use LTE 1,2,3,6,7,8 bands so make sure your phone has these bands. In a year or so when most companies have enough 5g coverage and people switch to 5g phones there will be similar problems. Buy phones which support the most LTE and 5g bands otherwise you'll have the same problems

0( +0 / -0 )

0 ( +0 / -0 )

UQ is now owned by AU, used to provide the POVO MVNO service.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

WeiWeiToday  01:35 pm JST

Oh please.

I can go to any number of websites put in the needed information on my phone and the website will tell me instantly which carries it will work on in any country I request.

It will tell me if fully supported or partially supported, which bands are compatible, etc...

Are you trying to tell us that the big 3 don't have this same information available?

I bought a sim during last visit to the US and only 3G was possible due to the bands not supported. 

Then you got the wrong carrier.

Next time look up "will my phone be supported" pick a site put in your phone specs and it it tell you which carries is most compatible with your phone.

You may not like the choices as your phone may only be best compatible on a more expensive carrier but that is something that cannot be helped.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

About bloody time. Watch out for a loophole!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Had a AU iphone, switched over to YahooMobile a few years ago, the yahoo guys unlocked it for me, no problems at all.

Bought my next phone from Apple, paid over 2 years,used Yahoo Sim , changed to Rakuten last year. Since Rakuten App didn’t support iPhones, couldn’t use the Link App last year, but can do it this year onwards.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The advantage with unlocked phones is that you can use esim for roaming plans when traveling overseas. I use Gigsky, pretty cheap and gives me data plans for almost everywhere.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Moved to Rakuten last year after being gouged by Docomo for 7 years - was about 12,000 yen a month. Can't say I feel sorry for them.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

ulyssesToday  02:21 pm JST

The advantage with unlocked phones is that you can use esim for roaming plans when traveling overseas. I use Gigsky, pretty cheap and gives me data plans for almost everywhere.

I have a physical dual SIM Asus when I traveled just purchased online a cheap Data SIM from a local provider compatible with my phone, just drop it in and up and running, never had to do anything else.

Did this in North America and Asia.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I have a physical dual SIM Asus when I traveled just purchased online a cheap Data SIM from a local provider compatible with my phone, just drop it in and up and running, never had to do anything else.

Did this in North America and Asia.

Thr advantage with Gigsky is that they have plans for a region, so I can buy once for AsiaPac, can use the same one in China, Malaysia, Australia etc etc.

In the good old days I would do 3-4 countries in a month, so that really helped.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So Japan has been like China, controlling the people within the web. Finally Japanese can crawl out of it.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

My smartphone are the simless ones you can get from Bic-Camera and Yodobashi. Plus 500yen monthly fee for a phone number, all I pay for is about 1600 yen per month. Calls are extra but I have an app to make cheap phone calls international or domestic - just need internet. And I'm always connected to wi-fi at work or home.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Way overdue! They have ripped us off for decades and decades! No sorry for them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thr advantage with Gigsky is that they have plans for a region, so I can buy once for AsiaPac, can use the same one in China, Malaysia, Australia etc etc.

In the good old days I would do 3-4 countries in a month, so that really helped.

That's interesting.

But good old days. Nope, the good old days are now ( well without covid) where I don't have to spend half my time traveling and can be home every night instead of a hotel room because of some silly business meeting or conference..

The days of 20 to 40 flights a years are thankfully in the past.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Saw this in the Japanese media. About time. eSim all the way.

But these ba.....tards will find loophole for sure. Always do.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Have been buying my iPhones directly from Apple to avoid SIM lock. Greedy Japanese companies..

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Much better to just buy an unlocked phone anyway and use wifi apps like line, messenger, Instagram, iMessage. ...........

2 ( +2 / -0 )

But good old days. Nope, the good old days are now ( well without covid) where I don't have to spend half my time traveling and can be home every night instead of a hotel room because of some silly business meeting or conference.

Nah, I miss my travel. Hopefully it should be back next year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Sounds good. I have some Apple old devices that are locked to AU, I guess I will have to wait until 2023 in order to get them made unlocked for free, thereafter the implications are boundless, old devices will have a new lease of life and find themselves being embedded as controllers for things such as home surveillance, or Kids drones, or even Wildlife monitors. Old equipment can even be reused to provide education services to those less fortunate.

The next step should be to allow owners of such devices to revert to any prior version of the OS supplied on that device which provides them with the level of functionality that they need... Apple is renown for introducing new versions of the OS which either hastens battery decline or makes some applications , or even the divicea as a whole simply un-usable - the "continuous Upgrade cycle" is Apples approach here.

And you have to pay apple to landfill your device too as part of its environmentally friendly decommissioning program.... (sorry, I have personal reasons to distrust Apple on their so called "promises").. Naturally I still have all my old devices, and use them

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Doesn't Japan have PAYG options? I've owned an unlocked SoftBank flip phone for years using PAYG with a Vodafone sim card. It works fine in the UK and (with roaming charges) in Japan. The Japanese features like 1Seg obviously don't work in the UK, but it is fine for calls and texts.

I've never had a mobile phone contract. All of my phones have been unlocked, using PAYG. In Japan, my smartphones have used rented pocket WiFi units.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

That's great news.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I just want a simple phone again. I don't think I really need a full-on smartphone any more as I actually find them quite annoying and distracting.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I've lived here long enough to know almost certainly that one thing will get better, but another thing will immediately get worse. After all, these are telecom giants and they are not going to give up their money in Japan.

Up until now, SIM blocked phones were mostly discounted because they were subsidised - you signed up for a certain period of time and if you eventually cancelled the contract, you paid also some extra penalty. So it was worth it for the operators to sell, say, an iPhone for 1000 yen.

SIM unblocked phones were and are extremely overpriced in here. The same iPhone that could be bought for e.g. 1,000 yen blocked+subsidised was sold unblocked at a price higher than usual anywhere abroad. 10 years ago my wife and I flew to South Korea for a week and even factoring in the price of my ticket, it was worth it to buy the same phone there than here.

So now it's going to be the case that the service providers jack up the price or else somewhere else they'll slip something in the contract to the customer's disadvantage. I am a realist.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Have been hearing this for over 5 years now, they always come up with clever ways of keeping their phones locked.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From end of September AU POVO starts from ¥0.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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