Thursday, September 8, 2011

Docomo flat rate Xi LTE plan makes sense, stepped plan is still stupid

Today Docomo also announced a new pricing plan for Xi LTE service that will be introduced with the upcoming tablets. 7 GB will be available for ¥4,410 in a flat-rate plan if signing up during the campaign period (until 4/30/2012) for a 2-year contract. After exceeding 7 GB, it appears that you have a choice to either 1) live with 128 kbps data for the rest of the month, or 2) pay ¥2,625 per additional 2 GB.

[NOTE: I need to clarify with a Docomo shop the cost of additional bandwidth during the campaign period - confusing and conflicting information abounds. Notice the orange arrows in the above graphic. UPDATE: figured it out. saw this tweet. Xi is unlimited until 10/1/2012, likely subject to change.]

In actuality, there will be very little change. The flat-rate plan will save a total of ¥525, over the stepped plan for 7 GB. The stepped plan is just stupid. Why Japanese carriers continue to structure stepped plans based on decade old data usage habits is beyond befuddling.

The minimum fee of the stepped plan will be raised from ¥1,000 to ¥2,500 which will include EXACTLY 9,524 KB. After which the the price will by ¥0.2625/KB until EXACTLY 24,800 KB are used. Then ¥4,935 will carry you to 7 GB.


Xi is theoretically capable of 75 Mbps. Of course we'd never get this in the real world, but since the carriers like to throw around their theoretical yet unattainable maximum throughput, let's use their numbers.

75 Mbps is 9.4 MegaBytes per second. Rounding to the same number of decimal places, the initial cost of ¥2,500 buys exactly 9.3 MB of data. So this means that the stepped plan is structured to give you exactly ONE SECOND of full-throttle usage before the price starts going up, theoretically. Realistically, you'd probably only get a quarter of that speed, so let's be generous and give 'em 4 seconds.

The full price for 7 GB is reached after consuming only 24 MB, easily done in a day with normal FOMA usage, or about THREE theoretical seconds with LTE (12 seconds, realistically). Unless you expect to not use your handset for an entire billing cycle, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to even consider getting the stepped plan.


  1. I theoretically might have a month every year when I do not use data at all as I am out of the country. Normally this would not fall exactly to a calendar month though.

    But even if it did the stepped plan does not make any sense as you would need two months of no data to get cheaper yearly price. What are they thinking when they make these plans? Or are they?

  2. I thought I might save money by switching to the foma stepped plan for the month I was away, got back a day and a bit before the end of the billing period and still somehow managed to use the data up to the limit.

    I hadn't realised just how stupidly low the stepped plan was, won't waste time doing that again.

  3. It's not just Docomo. They all do it that way. This is why when I was first testing the fair, I shut it off for a little while. I was waiting for the start of the month and a new billing cycle. Then I went cold turkey on Docomo data. I figured that If I was going to be carrying around two phones, I might as well save some money while I was at it.

  4. They are probably assuming that most customers cannot do the math as the sales rep will tell customers that they don't pay a lot if they don't use it a lot. The marketing material might be already misleading for some customers. Using big numbers 9,524 to 24,800, but choosing KB as unit. That's a joke. They should at least show it in Megabytes or better in GB as the graph ends in GB units. 2,500 Yen for 0.009GB and 4,935 Yen from 0.024 to 7 GB. LOL

  5. But who would ever want to use more than 24 Megabyte of Data? That's crazy! After all, I could hardly store so much information here on my AT286, since my harddisk stores only 40 Megabyte!

  6. Stepped plan is good, my wife use use around 2000yen, she nned only mail for work but want a big screen.

  7. Really? That is hardly using it at all.

    Do you realize how much of an incredibly bad value you are getting? I understand that you have no choice but to pay for a Xi data plan if you bought a device from docomo. And in this case paying only 2000 yen is better than the alternative of full price, but consider the alternative offered with a bmobile Fair SIM:

    For 2000 yen, you get 250 MB per month. Right now you are paying that for 24 MB! That's 10 times more expensive. And her usage is probably right on the verge of rolling over to full price.

    Depending on how much of a subsidy you received on the tablet, it might be cheaper to cancel and pay back the subsidy plus the 10,000 yen cancellation fee. The down side is that you won't get LTE speed but at 2 MB per month, you don't need it.

  8. It's not a tablet it's a phone (Galaxy N), she use also voice, Xi is not available here and dshe o not need fast connection, she only choose less expensive plan for her.

  9. Wait, you're talking about a phone? The Galaxy Nexus? Which isn't even LTE? That's a totally different story and isn't really applicable to this post...

  10. is it not a general post about docomo charges? ops I mistake soooori ^_^

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