Back on April 15th, I commented that it would be good to have a voice plan to go along with B-mobile's data-only FAIR SIM. And here it is - today, JCI announced the Talking FAIR SIM. Because this is a traditional circuit switch/packet switch SIM, I expect it will have much improved compatibility with Android phones (See here for some issues regarding data-only SIMs).
It will be available from August 2nd in both fullsize and iPhone 4 micro versions and is exactly like the prepaid data-only version that I have been using, but with the addition of a postpaid cellular voice plan.
The Talking FAIR provides 1000 MB of data that can be used over 120 days with a maximum of 32.5 cellular minutes per month included at a minimum of ¥3,500 per month. However, this is the first b-mobile product that requires a contract, though the terms are much better than what is standard in Japan: only 1 year and no automatic renewal.
This SIM is not for heavy users. Below are the details, which I've also added to the b-mobile comparison table.
- Contract fee: ¥3,150
- Prepaid data cost: ¥8,350 per 1,000 MB valid over 120 days (initial 1,000 MB charge is ¥9,800)
- Postpaid monthly voice charge: ¥1,250 for 32.5 min max. (includes ¥1,365 worth of talktime billed at ¥21/30 sec)
- SMS charge: ¥3.15 per message
- 7.2/5.7 Mbps up/down (best effort), streaming and tethering allowed
- MNP eligible
- Payment method: Credit card only
- Residency required (by Japanese law)
- Contract duration: 1 year, not auto renewed
- Early Termination fee: ¥10,500
- After canceling service, remaining data can be moved over to a data-only FAIR SIM for the cost of issuance of a new SIM (¥1,050) but it doesn't look like an existing charge on a FAIR SIM can be moved to a talking version.
So, even though I personally consume very little bandwidth and very little cellular airtime, I was paying Docomo about ¥7,000 per month before getting the FAIR SIM, with most of this going towards unlimited data that I neither needed nor fully utilized. Now, after shutting off data on the ht-03a, I am paying the equivalent of about ¥4,000, with about half going to b-mobile for data and half to Docomo for voice.
(I wouldn't be carrying around two phones if trying to get an overseas phone working with Docomo wasn't a complete waste of time on top of being stupidly expensive.)
If I completely cancelled my Docomo contract and went with the Talking FAIR SIM, I would be paying just under ¥3,500 per month for both voice and data all on my Nexus One (not including contract fee and higher cost of first 1000 MB).
For anyone thinking to do this, your biggest problem is going to be canceling your existing cellular contract without incurring a ¥10,000 or more cancelation fee. (This is in addition to having to pay back any subsidies on a new phone you just purchased.)
While the MIC is getting more doing more lately with consumers in mind, carriers here still get away with crap that would be unthinkable elsewhere, like 2 year automatically renewing contracts. You have a one month window to cancel service for no extra fees, and that window comes 'round once every two years.
Best to visit your local shop in advance and confirm exactly when you can cancel.
And do the math. If canceling all extra services costs, for example, ¥1,500 per month, it is cheaper to not cancel service if you only about half a year or less left on your contract. Just turn off the phone and don't use it, though you won't be able to do MNP with the contract still active.