It really does seem like Docomo rammed through SIM unlocking to get at the iPhone, but now that they got what they wanted, they have absolutely no clue what to do with it. Here's a hint if Yamada-san is reading: offer a pay-as-you-go data plan - several GB for several thousand yen a month. The lack of the non-tethering list, for phones that are eligible for the reasonable flat rate, is evidence that there really is no such thing as an unlocked handset that can't tether. I could have told them that months ago.
Hopefully they're taking notes from B-Mobile, who announced a plan today would have me spending about 2000 yen on data each month. If not, as I was just discussing, we really do need dual SIM handsets; one SIM for the family voice plan and one for a data plan through an MVNO.
Unlimited FOMA data plans coming from MVNO RStream for 4980 yen/month
These plans will be sold exclusively through Yodobashi Camera's stores in Akihabara, Shinjuku, Yokohama, and Osaka Umeda. I'm still fuzzy on the details, but RStream will be selling a physical android handset called the "RstreamA", as well as a data plan called "R-sky". Instead of cellular voice service, all calls will be through VOIP using RStream's IP phone service called "R-Phone". Confused yet?
The handset will have a 050 VOIP number, which means that it could be more expensive to call than a standard prefix like Tokyo's 03. Last I checked many overseas carriers bill 050 numbers at the same rate that bill 090 or 080 cell phones.
Being VOIP, when data is down so is your voice service, but on the flip side, when the lines are jammed, like after the quake, your 050 number will likely still work. Many of you surely noticed that sending email from your phone went though fine and surfing the net was not problem after the quake, but calling was impossible. Also, both my US and Japanese IP phones, which are both on NTT Flets, worked fine during this time.)
Two plans have been announced
- 年間特別プラン Yearly special plan: ¥4,680/month (includes unlimited data) + ¥700 worth of free calls*
- スタンダードプラン Standard plan: ¥4,980/month (includes unlimited data) + 180 minutes free calls**
** limited to other R-Phone numbers and domestic land lines. After 180 minutes, ¥16/120 seconds. Cell phones ¥14/40 seconds. (These are advertised as ¥8 and ¥18, but it seems like you'll be billed in ¥16 and ¥12 chunks.) Calls placed over wifi will be charged the above rates.
According to the FAQ, unlocked handsets can be brought and used but performance is not guaranteed. (Q: 他社の端末を持ち込んでの回線契約は可能ですか？A: 可能ではありますが、持ち込まれた端末の動作保証は致しかねます。) I have no idea how this VOIP software would be integrated in this case.
- Price unknown (on sale at Amazon for 60,000 yen, which is way too much for the hardware!)
- WCDMA/HSPA: 850/1900/2100 MHz (according to manufacturer but could have different radio for Japanese version)
- Muchtel A1 designed by Foxconn.
- Android 2.1 (originally released with 1.6)
- Updates not guaranteed (being studies - バージョンアップにつきましては検討しております。)
- 3.2" 320x480 capacitive touch screen
- Bluetooth 2.0+EDR but not compatible with the VOIP service (弊社提供のSIMカード及びR-Phone（VoIP）ではBluetoothはご利用できません。)
- 1230mAh battery (on the small side)
- Qualcomm MSM7227 600Mhz
- 256 MB RAM
- 512 MB ROM
- 802.11 b/g
- Micro SD slot
- 3.5 mm audio jack
In addition, there is this. The first half of this article I pulled directly from the Nikkei.
Not a full translation but the main points: Yodobashi Camera will offer data plans for mobile phones at its Akihabara, Shinjuku, Yokohama, and Osaka Umeda stores from the 8th. The flat rate plan will be unlimited and at ¥4995, half the price of what is being offered currently by NTT Docomo.
I found what appears to be the rest on 2channel.
通信ベンチャーのアールストリーム（大阪市）が提供する通信サービスの契約をヨドバシが代行する。契約の際にＮＴＴドコモの回線を通じて他の通信会社を使えるようにする専用のＳＩＭカードを無料で貸与する。アールストリームはドコモから携帯回線を借りて独自の通信サービスを展開する仮想移動体通信事業者（ＭＶＮＯ）。Communications venture rstream (Osaka) is providing the service, which will be sold by Yodobashi. rstream is an MNVO using Docomo's network. Honestly, I really couldn't decipher what ＮＴＴドコモの回線を通じて他の通信会社を使えるようにする専用のＳＩＭカード is supposed to mean. Either it is stating the obvious, that you can communicate with people on other carriers, or it is saying something that really doesn't make any technical sense to me - a special SIM that allows the use of another carrier through Docomo's FOMA network.
NEXT, B-Mobile is offering an unthrottled, pay as you go data service from 4/15.
From the B-Mobile press release (via Juggly君):
b-mobile Fairは、NTTドコモの3Gネットワークをフル活用することで、下り最大7.2Mbps、上り最大5.4Mbpsのネットワークを、1ギガバイト（GB）単位でご利用いただけるデータ通信専用SIMです。有効期限４ヶ月で１GBを利用できるb-mobile Fair 1GBを9,800円（税込、日本通信ネット販売価格）でご購入いただき、その後は1GBを8,350円でオンラインチャージして継続利用いただけます。B-Mobile Fair (as in a fair price) is a pay as you go service that offers unrestricted access to NTT Docomo's 3G network with a best effort 7.2 Mbps/5.4 Mbps down/uplink. Price is ¥9800 for 1 GB that can be used over 4 months. 8,350 per GB additional.
I haven't updated this lately, but this is how much data I typically use, without using wifi.
With light tethering, I average about one third of a GB each month. I rarely use wifi in the interest of saving my battery, but if I did use wifi more often, I could easily go 4 months and not use 1 GB of data. 9800/4 = ¥2,450 per month for the first 4 months, with the price dropping to about ¥2000 per month with subsequent charges.
When I first saw this come across Juggly's site, my first reaction was that 9800 yen is ridiculous for 1 GB because I failed to notice that this can be used over 4 months. Charging the data plan can be done with the bCharge application to be installed from the Android Market. Unfortunately, there is yet no word on a TalkingSIM plan that includes this.