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SoftBank Mobile to offer free Wi-Fi service for visitors to Japan

17 Comments

SoftBank Mobile Corp on Thursday announced that from July 1, it will start offering FREE Wi-Fi PASSPORT, a free Wi-Fi service for those who visit Japan for business, leisure and other occasions.

There is tremendous demand from visitors to Japan for free Wi-Fi service, and facilities that offer free Wi-Fi can expect to see increased visitor traffic. At the same time, due to an emphasis on easy access, there are some cases of inadequate user verification, which has made preventing malicious and unauthorized use of free Wi-Fi an urgent task.

With SoftBank Mobile's FREE Wi-Fi PASSPORT, users simply dial a dedicated number with their mobile phones at no charge to complete registration — there's no need to download a special app. Furthermore, the service supports English, Chinese and Korean, and offers Japan's No.1 network of Wi-Fi access points, numbering 400,000 nationwide. While enhancing convenience for users, FREE Wi-Fi PASSPORT also offers safe and secure Wi-Fi access by using mobile phone numbers to verify users.

SoftBank Mobile will study usage patterns and other data from this initial trial period that runs until March 2016.

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17 Comments
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Sure wish there was free wi-fi for us living here. This place is terrible for free wi-fi. I would not care if it came with lots of ads. Please give us free wi-fi too.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

With SoftBank Mobile’s FREE Wi-Fi PASSPORT, users simply dial a dedicated number with their mobile phones at no charge to complete registration

Can anyone see a possible problem here? How many people visit Japan and use the roaming feature? Not much point when most will have no one to communicate with.... not to mention phone frequency issues. How about tablets? Laptops? Why not join the 21st century and make access easy, free and widely available.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Japan, welcome to 2005. Free wi-fi has been available in restaurants, parks, and even beaches in America for a decade. Hard to understand how a country as advanced as Japan is so far behind in this area.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Hard to understand how a country as advanced as Japan is so far behind in this area.

Who said Japan is advanced?

They don't recognize joint custody after divorce, human rights for non japanese, or a need for laws banning discrimination and hate speech. Laws banning stalking and child porn are anemic at best. Multiculturalism in Japan is non existant. Labor Laws simply exist on the books; they have no function in real life. Democracy in Japan is clevely disguised facism. (the actual definiton for facism is the merger of the State with Private Enterprise) While this exists everywhere, it is joined at the hip in Japan. There is no freedom of the press. NHK totes the government propaganda. Women have no role in politics (look at what happened to Yuko Obuchi as well as Makiko Tanaka 13 or 14 years ago) or in the corporate structure of the nation. It is a highly racist and sexist society.

What they do have is a clean country, adherence to the rule of law (unless you happen to be high on the pecking order of things), and a good manufacturing industry, and a highly domesticated public. On the whole it looks good. Looks can be deceiving.

It doesn't surprise me at all that they have been slow to adopt the free wifi service most REAL developed nations take for granted.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have often said that Japan seems to be moving "slow in the fast lane" in regards to technology issues. Glad to see that softbank is doing this but they are stil behind the rest of the world when it comes to cell phone communications and plans. Most of the world (I can speak of the USA) has gone to having phones sold unlocked or not on contract so that you can freely move from carrier to carrier to get the best deal for your situation. Even the big companies like AT&T and Verison have managed to allow virtual services to offer prepaid plans that at times far exceed what one would get from being locked to a specific carrier. For example, in the USA a service called Straight Talk (they use the same network of AT&T) offers unlimited talking and text and 5 GB data for $45 a month, no contract, bring your own phone.

So one has the option of either going with a plan from AT&T, paying for the phone on a monthly basis paying more for the same service, or using a less expensive cell phone, bringing it to a provider like Straight talk and using the same network and come out ahead in regards to cell phone bills.

Compare that to the lousy deal I have with AU, being stuck with a phone which happens to be from a non-Japanese company (HTC), and they are not allowing for it to be updated with the latest Android 5.0, and all the while I have to pay 8,000 yen/month for the same amount of data and calls, plus having to pay for SMS outgoing, and the whopping 9,500 yen cancellation fee if I want to find another provider (and can't get the phone unlocked either).

As I said, Japan still has a long way to go to keep being competitive in the technology serivce industry.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

How does getting a phone number of someone ID them esp. if the numbers are overseas numbers?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

How about giving wifi access to your own prepaid service customers, Softbank? Throw in the ability to SMS phones on other carriers, and then your prepaid service wouldn't such a steaming pile of **** (I know you make it that way so that people choose contract phones instead of prepaid, but you won't give me one if those because I only have a one year visa. Nice one, cheers)

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Throw in the ability to SMS phones on other carriers, and then your prepaid service wouldn't such a steaming pile of ****

@ Yoshitsune: I would recommend you try going for one of those companies like ICT (I am not sure if they are in your area) or getting a cheaper Huwaei or ASUS ZenPhone 2 from a Nojima or Kojima and picking up a data sim that will give you 3 GB for about 2 months. With that you can also refil and you can get a Brastel 050 number in the sim pacakge that will let you make and receive calls without going through softbank. Those prepaid data sims ride on the Docomo network, and there are several others out there.

The big issue with Japan is that they have it out there, but they don't want you to know about it unless you are here only for a week or more visit, and not for the average Tanaka in the street who needs to be able to get a quality service withougt being robbed by the company. I am all for business making a profit, but if you hold back on what the consumer wants, and try to guide them to what you "think" they need does not sit well with me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

While enhancing convenience for users, FREE Wi-Fi PASSPORT also offers safe and secure Wi-Fi access by using mobile phone numbers to verify users.

Sure it does NOT make it easier as a lot of SIM cards will be blocked or not compatible and roaming will NOT work. This sounds more like a poorly, yet typical Japanese overprotective and over controlling system to get as much information about the users as possible but like most will not work and if it sort of does, it won't work well with that much verification required. It's as overprotective as Japan's cellular services for anyone wanting to get a pay as you go SIM or disposable mobile and just give NO INFORMATION AT ALL. NEVER GONNA HAPPEN!!!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Sure wish there was free wi-fi for us living here. This place is terrible for free wi-fi. I would not care if it came with lots of ads. Please give us free wi-fi too.

What are you talking about? Every convenience store has free wifi, plus Starbucks, McDonald's etc....

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

@ KnowBetter: So very true! Back in 2014, I visited the USA for a week. I have an AU contract with Global Passport, and looking at what I would be shelling out: 2980 yen day for data, 120 yen/min to call, 100 yen per sms, just by not making a call and using the data for a week I would be out of 20860 yen, and the amount of calls made probably would have added another 5000 yen.

I went to Best Buy the day I arrived, bought a Motorola Moto G (1st gen) which was a CDMA, 3G phone for $79 that was locked to Verizon, and paid $45 for unlimited calling and texting and 3 GB data. So for $124 up front, I had a phone with a reliable connection for both voice and data, and I was able to make calls and more importantly receive local calls without the callers having to use my Google voice and me connecting to mobile data. I was still able to contact the wife back in Japan via Skype and if needed could dial a Japanese number.

I got all of that, without having to go through the labors you described just to get a phone. No ID was required, no copying of passport or license, and none of the companies needless data call for my information that has nothing to do with me wanting to make a phone call.

The only drawback I have is that model Moto G I was using is a CDMA model, and didn't have a removable sim so it is only able to be used on a Verizon network, but now that has changed somewhat, and the phone's storage is a bit low and has no capacity to add a SD card. But otherwise, it still is a good phone, and I can use it in the house as a very cheap wifi device that still works and I can stream music voice chats etc. Now compare that to when I leave Japan with a locked HTC J-One to AU, which they will not unlock so I can't get updates or more importantly use it on another network outside of Japan. So I will have two wifi devices, one that cost me $79 (Moto G) and another that costs me up to $600 (HTC J-One) that unless I break it down and flash it and sim unlock it will be behind in system upgrades.

Yet AU and the rest of the Japan cell companies knows what's best for me.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm from Australia, I've never had problems accessing free WiFi on my mobile at hotels I've stayed that offer. On the road I access free WiFi standing outside any of the Starbucks cafes. If I had to ring to register I'd do it in Skype. So for Softbank to be doing this I'm super thrilled!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Wish they would reduce their roaming charges for people from Japan who travel abroad, I guess I'll be subsidising these people who holiday here...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ends march 2016? Figures. I'm coming may 2016.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They need to. In Taiwan I can get 8 days of unlimited internet and tethering for less than 3000 yen. It's cheaper for Taiwanese to use their own Taiwan carrier data plan than use SoftBank/docomo/AU service. Maybe they have woken up to the fact foreigners will shop around a lot more than Japanese people.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I'm just going to rent a pre-paid Japanese sim for my iPhone... makes life easier.

To access this WiFi I would have to deactive 'airplane' mode, allow mobile data and then phone that number... Might be no cost for the call, but as soon as that phone is out of 'airplane' mode it starts racking up the bills thanks to roaming charges. No, rental sim for me.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Might be no cost for the call, but as soon as that phone is out of 'airplane' mode it starts racking up the bills thanks to roaming charges.

Then don't turn on roaming or mobile data. Neither of these is necessary to make the phone call, or to use wifi.

No, rental sim for me.

That's a different thing altogether. A rental sim will allow you to use the phone networks for data. The service being offered by Softbank is to let you use their wifi points that are all over the place, not to use their network for data.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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