Monday, February 7, 2011

DoCoMo to finally provide economical Flat-Rate data in Japan

I don't know about you guys but this sounds really nice since I am sure that I am not using much data but am terrified of going over. Now buying a tablet will not be such a bad expense but I am holding out for a Honeycomb one.

"DoCoMo was so far the least competitive company when it comes to provide unlimited data plan in Japan. But this my friends will change March 15 and you will finally be able to get a cheap and unlimited flat-rate in Japan for your smartphone and/or your tablet.
Both offerings will give customers a choice between two-tiered or full flat-rate billing to suit their data-usage habits. The two-tiered option lets users pay as they go for moderate data usage up to a set limit, or pay a flat-rate monthly charge of 5,985 yen (including tax) if they exceed the set limit. Under the full flat-rate option, the monthly charge is 5,460 yen (including tax) regardless of data volume.
As a special offer, DOCOMO customers who purchase selected smartphones or tablet PCs and subscribe to one of the flat-rate billing options will receive discounts on their monthly charges for up to 24 months. Also, students and their families who purchase DOCOMO smartphones and choose to use the flat-rate data billing for smartphones will receive additional discounts of 525 yen (including tax) on their monthly charges for up to 37 months."


  1. It seems like they are going to release the LG Slate/ Optimus Pad on that day, along with the Xperia arc, and possibly its brethren. The LG tablet will run Honeycomb.

  2. If they do I am definitely going to pick one up on day one. Though I'm not sure if I will just use that with a bluetooth headset since I don't really use the phone much anyway.

  3. So is the Pake-hodai flat still going to be IMEI filtered as their normal pake-hodai?

  4. not sure that is an excellent question. I guess we will have to wait and see.

  5. It would be nice if they did. I would like to use something faster than their 128k capped on my unlocked Galaxy S without having to pay upwards of 10k yen a month for it.

  6. Techniker TechnologeFebruary 8, 2011 at 1:46 AM

    - do you need to subscribe to a new 2 year period to get into the new billing? I.e. say you are still six month on contract in your two year period, do you need to extend (i.e. 1,5 years) to use it?
    - how much is 80000 Pakets? It's less than 1 MB, right? so the double2 is complete bogus, isn't it?
    So all in all, it is, realisticall and essentially 500 yen less from ~6000 yen to ~5500 yen, right?

  7. I spoke with Docomo today and they told me that for SIM-unlocked (non-Docomo) phones, they would allow them to access the new plan, but the rate would not be capped at 5,460yen. It would be capped at the 10,395 rate that they apply to tethering external devices. How they believe they can enforce this, I have no idea (unless they're still restricting to a different APN.)

    In any case I argued that the press release made no mention of this restriction:

    "Also from April 1, DOCOMO SIM cards (“FOMA™ cards”) and micro SIM cards (“docomo mini UIM cards”) will become available on a subscription basis for people who wish to use a non-DOCOMO device on the DOCOMO mobile network or a different SIM card in their DOCOMO device. The cards will be free and customers will pay normal subscriber fees. People wishing to obtain a SIM card also must visit a docomo Shop with their mobile device."

    I insisted they contact the PR team who released this and call me back. To their credit, they actually did return my call within about an hour and a half. They are now saying they will release a list of phones (ones which do not permit tethering) which they allow to use the service without the restriction. This is of course ridiculous as the whole point of this campaign is to get back all the business they've lost to softbank because of iphone sales, and all modern smartphones can tether.

    So, have to wait and see what they do on April 1.

  8. I haven't blogged on this given the current situation. Juggly posted just before the earthquake.

    ちなみに、SIMロックフリー端末で技適マークのある端末(例えばiPhone 4)であれば、パケット定額プラン上限5,985円で利用できるとのこと。技適マークの無い端末では10,395円。
    SIM lock free handsets with the certification mark (e.g., iPhone 4) can be used with the packet houdai 5985 yen plan. Uncertified phones be capped at 10,395 yen.

    The Docomo Japanese announcement is much more detailed

    なお、総合プランをご契約の場合、他社のSIMロック解除端末がテザリング非対応であることなどをドコモで確認できた端末については、パケット定額サービスをご契約いただくことで、パケット通信料の上限額は5,460円3 もしくは5,985円4 となります。当該端末については、ドコモで上記の確認が取れた時点で、ドコモホームページにてお知らせします。その後、お客様が当該端末に指定のアクセスポイント(APN)を設定していただくことで、それ以降のパケット通信が上記パケット通信料の対象となります。その他の端末については、上限額10,395円となります。

    Phones that don't support tethering can get the cheap plan. Eligible phones will be published on the docomo shop. Other phones get changed the expensive plan.

  9. That's really interesting. My Desire HD from softbank has a MIC sticker, and it's (self-)unlocked. So theoretically, I could go to Docomo April first with it and get the full packet-houdai for 5,460yen.

    Not that I'm actually going to do that, since I'd have to pay a hefty penalty for wanting to cancel my cellular WiFi router. But the look of confusion on their faces would be priceless.

    But you have a good point. All recent smartphones support tethering/access point. So I guess that "allowed" list is going to be very very short.

  10. Does anyone know if the Docomo sim data card/service will work with an iPad (ver 1) which I purchased in the USA?

  11. Yes, it should work with the correct APN
    Cost would be as listed above, depending on if you get the flat or tiered rate. The tiered rate only makes since if you anticipate spending an entire month (billing cycle) not using 3G at all.

  12. Good point. Knowing DoCoMo, I assume that they would sell you a 2-year contract in order to lock you in for another 2 years. You probably know that cancelling your contract (after 2 years) is only free for one month (AFAIK, last month of the 2-year period). Even if you don't buy a new handset, the contract renews itself automatically for 2 years and if you cancel your contract within this period, you will be charged a fee of approx. 10,000 Yen. Rip Off! That's another trick to prevent customers from changing to another provider.

    FYI, I am currently using an iPhone4 on the DoCoMo network and have 3G data disabled as it would be too expensive. I am using Public WLAN (MZone 840 Yen/month) and have WiMax (3,840 Yen/month) which allows me to connect/tether the iPhone or any other device with WLAN to the WiMax device. Yes, it's cumbersome to do that and battery life of the WiMax device (NEC Aterm WM3300R) is not great, but I am not willing to pay 10,000Yen for data per month.

  13. 80,000 packets are 9.8MB (or 10,000 KB) as 1 packet is 128 bytes.  10 MB is nothing with a smartphone which means that you will always pay the full rate. Docomo will tell you in the shop that you will not pay a lot if you don't use data a lot, but that's unrealistic if you have a smartphone.  They want you to hit the ceiling.
    The above graphs show that one will reach 5,985 Yen when consuming 190K packets (23.2MB). I thought it's 114K packets (13.9MB). Anyway, it's quite expensive if you consider that some European providers offer a 1GB data for roughly 10 Euro.

  14. Either way, a fews day usage and you 6000 yen. I agree, the tiered plan makes no sense unless you are regularly out of the country for month(s) at a time. The based the plan on feature phones