Friday, December 16, 2011

NTT Docomo begins competing directly with Japanese MVNOs

Apparently feeling pressure from JCI, the company behind the popular b-mobile and Aeon SIMs, NTT Docomo recently announced a 128 kbps data plan that doesn't cost in excess of ¥5,000. The pricing and data speed put it in direct competition with the 100 kbps Aeon Plan A.

To put this into perspective, Docomo's previous price point for 128/64 kbps (down/up) was an astounding ¥5,985. To compete with JCI, Docomo has had to drop the price of this plan by nearly 600%.

The link to this old plan is likely to die, but here is a writeup.
While Docomo may have conceded on price point, they are still loathe to do away with their 2-year, automatically renewing contracts, which are standard with all Japanese carriers. In addition, Docomo is also including the (bogus) ISP fee on top (waived during the campaign). And, the base price of service is more. The Aeon SIM is the clear winner in this fight.

Aeon Plan A
NTT Docomo
100 kbps (down and up)
128/64 kbps (down and up)
2-year, auto renewal
ISP charge
¥525 (waived)

If you are wondering why Docomo would even allow JCI to do this, since JCI is in fact using Docomo's FOMA network. The answer is simple. JCI won the right to do so in government arbitration. Before that, all deals were done behind closed doors. Now anyone can become an MVNO using Docomo's FOMA and Xi networks, and the wholesale terms and pricing are set and in the open.

There is one place where Docomo could potentially best JCI. The SIM cards that Docomo provides to MVNOs lack particular components that cause the infamous niggles such as lack of signal bars and 3G icons, which in turn results in excessive battery use by the cell phones radio as it boost power searching for a signal (even though it has a signal). Docomo could provide it's own customer with SIMs that don't cause this problem, but I seriously doubt they will. 


  1. Long time reader - first time poster.

    The Docomo plan appears to be aimed directly at the playstation Vita. I'm actually really excited about it. My Vita came with 100hours of data use (or 6 months whichever comes first). In the 2 days that I've used it, I've already spent 2 hours of data (not sure how at all). It looks like there is not a clear way to turn off the data. As such, once my 100 hours runs out (on pace to run out in 1.5 months!!!!!), I will definitely pick this up.

    Compared to the other Vita plans, this is by FAR the best deal as it appears that the Vita, to be used in the way it was intended, will burn through the pre-paid plans in no time.


    This is the data plan that you have now. When this one is done, do you plan to get the Aeon Plan or this new Docomo plan? I would strongly advise you to get the Aeon plan.

  3. Do you think the AEON plan will work for the Vita? The Vita isn't sim-locked as far as i know, but it does have a "carrier live area." If AEON isn't set up for the Vita access, I think the Vita will cry.

    Still, if it works, then yeah, I would jump on the AEON plan. I'm happy to bring my Vita around for a little bit of experimentation if anyone in Tokyo or Kanagawa has an AEON sim.

    On a side note - I just picked up the F-05d and am LOVING it. I'm working up a review on it just for the heck of it :)

  4. bmobile SIMs are already confirmed working (Do you read Japanese? - if not, let me know. I can make a small post about using b-mobile SIMs in the Vita.)

  5. I read Japanese enough to figure it out. Good find though - I've been too busy fighting with Sony about their online unlock code for Minano Golf 6 to research anything else. I'll be on my way to AEON to pick one up once my 100 hours runs out!

  6. PS-Vita 3G and Docomo Prepaid Sim 4980yen, 100hours or 180days 128/64 red sim, I'm using and for Vita it's perfect.

  7. Unless you get at least 5 months of usage, the AEON SIM would be a better deal at ¥980 for 128/128. シムが赤いってことは面白いね。何が違うんだろう。。。赤いシムはXiになると思っていたが、違うね。


  8. Not to be snarky but came something DROP by more than 100%? If something is 100% cheaper than wouldn't the price be zero? I think you mean they've dropped 77%. Again not to be snarky-you're doing a wonderful service to the world!

  9. You're probably right.

  10. on Aeon Plan A wont work skype... (not sure if because is too weak connection or cos is blocked).. would it work in this new NTT docomo plan???

  11. I doubt it. My VoIP provider says I need at least a 90 kbps symmetrical connection.

    I don't know if skype can work well with a 64 kbps uplink. More of the problem is that Docomo prohibits VoIP on current FOMA data plans.

  12. Twisting it a bit more... if using a mifi dongle instead of puting the sim direclty on the phone... would it realize its a voip call (skype or others) or will it just consider it as any other data?
    something like:

  13. I used b-mobile U300 and skype but too weak connection, I think at least 512 for VoIP

    are blocked. If which would be a problem if you need to use those ports, regardless of how many hops you make between the phone and Docomo.

    I would advise giving up on trying to get VoIP with the docomo 128 k. It's officially not allowed and I am sure they go to great lengths to make it not work.

  15. Problem with the U300 is not the speed but the lack of streaming. Streams are throttled after a bit. This is the only way for bmobile to not go broke paying Docomo for their usage.