Wednesday, August 15, 2012

B-Mobile Visitor SIMs for tourists in Japan


B-mobile has revamped their visitor SIMs. The original product is no longer available. Instead, there are now two prepaid, data-only SIM cards. Both cost ¥3,980 and are valid for 14-days, with a choice between regular and micro sizes.

These SIMs are delivered preactivated with English support (including the webpage).

The "14-day prepaid" has unlimited data capped at 300 kbps, and the "1 GB prepaid" allows full speed (best effort) up to 1 GB. It should be noted that the 300 kbps version will not allow sustained streaming, so it won't work with VoIP, Skype, youtube and the like.

Because of this, I recommend the 1 GB flat rate SIM.

Also, the 300 kbps SIMs often have high latency, meaning it can take a little time for a connection to be completed. All of the "U300" products have this issue. The 1GB version will provide a much more responsive internet experience. However, these are not a wide-open connection to the internet with a public IP address. These connect through a proxy and there is some amount of traffic shaping. Most people find that they can use VoIP like Skype with little issues.

While the 1GB version is marketed as "perfect for Skype," I confirmed that the SIM is technically equivalent to the standard 1 GB Flat Rate SIM and has no additional "Quality of Service" provisions specifically for Skype.

Non-visitor data-only SIMs also an option


See here for a list of SIMs that can also be used by visitors. Voice SIMs are by law limited to residents.

There is no reason why a tourist cannot use a standard, non-visitor SIM while temporarily in Japan. These are less expensive and the prepaid charges are good for 30 days. However, these require access to a Japanese mobile phone to activate the SIM. An English activation menu is available. These can be found at large electronic stores, such as Yodobashi Akiba. The 30-day U300 is not available in retail stores, but can often be found in the Akihabara gray market shops. It can be delivered to a hotel room.

The increase in price for the visitor SIMs may be worthwhile for the decreased hassle. Some may note that the there has been a substantial price increase on the visitor SIMs relative to the price of the original, with the price per day increasing from ¥100 to nearly ¥300. All I have to say about that is JCI made a mistake in pricing the original. Why would they offer it at the exact same price as the regular SIM when the market would obviously allow a higher price point?

24 comments:

  1. ht03A → artix TokyoAugust 18, 2012 at 11:02 AM

    simple question for folks out there: what is the best way to go for a sim card overseas in the US to be used on an unlocked atrix that I'm currently using here at home with a docomo plan?

    ReplyDelete
  2. t-mobile monthly prepaid or pay as you go, assuming the atrix supports AWS (UMTS band 4)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hmm I wonder if they will carry new nano-sim cards for the iPhone5

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sadly, after updating to iOS 6 there are issues with the data only option - it shows no service in the top left and notifications do not work - this means NO iMessage, third party messaging like skype or line, and no receiving SIP calls.... Be warned!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wow. That completely blows. You get no data whatsoever?

    ReplyDelete
  6. No - problem would be with the phone thinking it has not data connection, which causes all push to fail.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Is this for the iPhone 5 and iOS 6? My friend h
    uses the iPhone 4S with the amazon bmobile data sim and it works fine. He's on iOS 6, too.

    ReplyDelete
  8. So, what people who did upgrade and are now stuck with no Imessage nor Line should do ? Wait for J-C to fix it ? seems like the only choice...

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm currently in Tokyo with the 1 GB b-mobile SIM, using HTC Evo 3D North American GSM version running Android 4.0.3. Initially, I could connect to NTT Docomo using my roaming SIM, so I knew my phone worked. When I plugged in my b-mobile SIM, the phone would report lost signal even with proper APN settings. However, based on a posting on a Singapore-based forum, it was mentioned that even if the phone reports no signal, data would work as long as APN settings were correct. After disabling the hotel Wifi, I can confirm this is the case for me. It's weird to have data but no signal, but browsing works fine. Certain apps don't work at all, like Dell Voice, which is unfortunate as I had intended to use it for calling home

    ReplyDelete
  10. Would changing email settings to fetch every 5mins or so help create a connection and allow push messages to come through? not realtime but better?

    ReplyDelete
  11. You'll get mail within at least 5 minutes. On a computer with a plug in the wall, more often polling of the IMAP server is desirable. But with a battery, you have to find a balance. I haven't used IMAP email on my phones much because none of the IMAP clients are very good, so I'm not the best person to give advice on that.

    ReplyDelete
  12. What I mean here is, because of the polling, a connection would be made. Therefore other notifications can be pushed at this time? I'm not so concerned with the mail itself.
    Understand the concerns regarding battery life with this method but looking at workarounds for now.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Rob, can you confirm this? Is your friend on iPhone 4s and running iOS 6? Im going to Japan in a week and I dont know if I should spring for one of the b-mobile data only visitor sim cards.

    ReplyDelete
  14. If you're visiting Japan, make sure you order this in advance so you don't have to activate it. If you waited too long, like me, and need to go buy one at the store, go to Yodobashi Akiba, next to Akihabara station in Tokyo. On the first floor, look for an NTT Docomo booth next to an au booth. If you speak little/no Japanese, it can be pretty difficult to convey what you're looking for. I tried "visitor SIM ga arimasu-ka?" and "Gaijin-no SIM?" and got nowhere. Eventually, using "prepaid SIM" worked. They would probably know "b-mobile," but I didn't know what booth to look for, so I wanted to be more broad until I got to the right spot. There's a display case right between those two booths that has the 1GB card. Just point to it and ask for that.


    You should also look up how to ask/beg them to activate it for you with their own keitai, or you're gonna be stuck trying to find anyone you know in Japan who has a mobile phone. You can't activate these things with a hotel phone, and using the English help desk costs an extra 2500 yen. I got lucky and found a friend I knew in middle school on facebook who's currently in the JET program and has a Japanese mobile phone. Also, as other people have pointed out, your phone will say there's no signal, but it works.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Why pay this much for data when you can get visitor SIM hassel free for 30 days for about same amount? They speak English and reply promptly to emails. Hope this helps people. Check out: http://www.econnectjapan.com/products-page/sim/microsim

    ReplyDelete
  16. Here is the best deal of all: http://www.econnectjapan.com/products-page/sim/microsim

    ReplyDelete
  17. This was originally posted 5 months ago, does anyone know if there has been an update to fix this?

    ReplyDelete
  18. be aware - b-mobile data sim cards doesn't work with iPad, and setting up on your iPhone can be very complicated, as the manual for set up is not very clear
    I bought 2 sim cards - for my friend and myself, and even we started to use it at different time (my friend arrived to Japan one week later)
    both our cards stop working exactly at the same time- two days before the expiration dates .
    Three days later I received reply from B-mobile help desk saying they we both runout our data ,
    but I don't really believe them- exactly at the same time!
    Also, data speed is much slower then expected and it's never get correct location- when I arrive to Hiroshima, all next day my iPhone was showing me that I'm in central Tokyo, even I switched it of off several times.

    ReplyDelete
  19. 2 years ago, I got a good experience to use the bb mobile sim card with the iPhone4. However, recently, I used the nano sim (1GB version) in April with my iPhone 5. I found the speed is extreme slow (around 80kb). I double checked that the configuration was correct. I just changed my mind to endure that "slow speed iphone5" for the whole journey.
    Be careful to use it with iphone 5. I hope bb-mobile can check or test it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I had a bmobile nano sim delivered to my hotel, i'm using an ipad mini with ios 6.1.3. it worked great for the first week then started dropping out eventually leaving me with the 'No Service' message. I am unable to connect to anything with the sim, the sim shows different carriers and not NTT Docomo. I contacted Apple support who said it sounds like a hardware issue (my ipad is just over a week old) and they know nothing about any issues relating to upgrading to ios 6.1.3, I contacted bmobile who said it was connecting several times a day and at some stage had a large amount of data transfer both up and down, during that period I did not and could not use it so i have no idea why it was connecting and transefering data. Still can't use it and am flying back home in two days. Pretty dissappointed at bmobiles customer support. They only seam to send/reply to one email per day, after I called the support help line I got told they have no idea what's ahppening so they'll get the tech's in Japan to call me back in a short while, I answered the call but must have been a little too slow as there was no-one on the line when i picked up, they did not try calling back. Having no data connection made getting around and looking for things a fair bit harder. Next time I'll try another company.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Hello!
    I have iPhone5 A1428 model with iOS 7.0.2

    - b-mobile says it works with A1429 model only but A1428 also supports 2100MHz

    Did anybody use b-mobile 1GB nano-sim with iPhone5 A1428 model? Just to be sure it will work

    ReplyDelete
  22. does this card good with ios 7.0.2 iphone 5s? i understand that it must be set manually for the APN setting and apparently there's no such setting in ios 7.0.2.

    ReplyDelete
  23. AZ-Zakwanul Faiz bin ZakariaDecember 30, 2013 at 4:57 AM

    hello, is the sim compatible with the nexus 7 second generation? i assume it will work since it supports first generation nexus 7 so for confirmation, i did email bmobile asking whether it works or not on nexus 7 (2013) 4g lte. they replied saying they aren't sure.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Quote "Why would they offer it at the exact same price as the regular SIM when the market would obviously allow a higher price point?"
    Yeah that's nice keeping with the Japanese way and sums it up beautifully - if you can rip people off just go ahead. It also ties in with "Gaman" so they better not be vocal about getting screwed to the wall for essential services or else! lol, I really love Japan but HATE it's systems - they are archaic, controlled by pure greedy a**holes and overly complicated to a point where it seems deliberate (which it most likely is). Sorry for trying to keep it real btw.

    ReplyDelete