Monday, September 17, 2012

Comparison of iPhone 5 carriers in Japan

Availability of the iPhone 5 in Japan

The iPhone 5 is available directly from two carriers, Au by KDDI and Softbank Mobile. Unlocked overseas versions can be purchased, but usage will be impossible on KDDI's network and tricky on Softbank's. Neither carrier will allow you to use an unlocked iPhone that they didn't sell you.

Expansys Japan is taking preorders for unlocked overseas models. These can theoretically be used on NTT Docomo Xi network or with an MVNO such as b-mobile, if the issues concerning the different SIM size and thickness with the new nano SIM can be overcome.

Network

Compatible Networks
  • NTT Docomo's Xi LTE network (and any MVNO using Docomo - including FOMA)
  • Softbank's 4G LTE network
  • KDDI by AU's LTE network
The iPhone 5 won't work with emobile. The SIM will have to be cut down and the thickness shaved down for use with Docomo. Whether Docomo will release nano SIMs probably depends on whether Japan Communications Inc. (aka B-mobile) can successfully pressure them into doing it.
FDD-LTE
All carriers will have Band 1 (2100 MHz) FDD-LTE networks in operation by launch of the iPhone 5 on September 21. NTT Docomo's Xi network is the most well developed, but KDDI and Softbank Mobile are quickly building out their LTE networks. A recent compilation of the of number of LTE base stations currently deployed indicates that the AU LTE is the smallest.

However, there is about a 6 week delay between when functional stations are added and when the MIC lists are updated. KDDI CEO Tanaka indicated during a recent interview that KDDI has a larger number of LTE base stations that can be activated when needed, and that the MIC numbers don't necessarily reflect these unlicensed stations.
Simultaneous voice and LTE data
No carrier in Japan is capable of simultaneous voice and LTE data transmission. Until VoLTE (voice over LTE is implemented), during a phone call, the data connection will fall back to 3G speeds when using a W-CDMA carrier (NTT Docomo and Softbank Mobile). In the case of KDDI's CDMA-2000 voice network, the data connection will shut off completely. While there are solutions for this problem on CDMA-2000 networks, it requires the usage of an additional antenna, which consumes more power and space. Apple chose not to implement this.
Tethering
A lot of attention has been focused on the lack of a tethering function in the Softbank demonstration model seen by the press. There is a chance that Softbank will add this because that is the largest discrepancy between their service compared to KDDI's.

Tethering is available for free if using B-Mobile or NTT Docomo. KDDI is offering free tethering, but (apparently) only for two years. From the AU price page:
申込期間:2021-10-26まで。無料期間中の通信量の増量はありません。無料期間終了後は通信速度が制限されずにご利用できる通信量が500MB追加されます。
Application period until 12/31/2012. During the free tethering period, the data cap is not increased. Once the free tethering period ends, speed will not be decreased and the data cap will be increased by 500 MB for tethering subscribers.
This also indicates that tethering will be an additional service that must be added. There is no mention of what the price will be after the end of the free tethering period. UPDATE: found it. 500 yen plus tax is what it will cost.

Price

Both KDDI and Softbank Mobile take different routes to arrive at the exact same pricing for new customers who port over a new number and for new customers who aren't moving from another carrier.

Yeah, there's no collusion in that.

The absolute minimum monthly cost for an iPhone 5 is ¥5,775 for a 16 GB model from both Softbank and KDDI if you're a new customer who ports in a phone number from another carrier. If you are a new customer who doesn't have existing mobile service in Japan, add ¥980 for a total of ¥6,755. The most expensive will be for existing AU customers at ¥7,145.
AU by KDDI
KDDI's discount is slightly better than Softbank's, especially for new customers, but the cost of the handset is more expensive, evening things out..

Cost of KDDI iPhone 5
New Contract
Existing Customer
16 GB
(¥61,680)
32 GB
(¥72,000)
64 Gb
(¥82,320)
16 GB
(¥61,680)
32 GB
(¥72,000)
64 Gb
(¥82,320)
Monthly cost
¥2,570
¥3,000
¥3,430
¥2,570
¥3,000
¥3,430
Montly subsidy
-¥2,570
-¥2,180
Monthly total
¥0
¥430
¥860
¥390
¥820
¥1,250
2-year total
¥0
¥10,320
¥20,640
¥9,360
¥19,680
¥30,000

Carrying over the "monthly total" from the above table into the cost for service gives the following. There are substantial discounts to those who leave a Japanese carrier for AU.

KDDI Monthly Service Cost
New Contract
Existing Customer
16 GB
32 GB
64 Gb
16 GB
32 GB
64 GB
Monthly total
¥0
¥430
¥860
¥390
¥820
¥1,250
Unlimited data
¥5,460 (7GB)
ISP charge
¥315
Basic voice plan
¥0*
¥980
Minimum monthly
payment
¥5,775
¥6,205
¥6,635
¥7,145
¥7,965
¥8,005
Softbank Mobile
The absolute minimum cost offered from Softbank is the same as than that offered by AU, with the addition that existing customers are eligible for all discounts.

Cost of Softbank iPhone 5
New and Existing Customer
16 GB
(¥51,360)
32 GB
(¥61,680)
64 Gb
(¥72,000)
Monthly cost
¥2,140
¥2,570
¥3,000
Montly subsidy
-¥2,140
Monthly total
¥0
¥430
¥860
2-year total
¥0
¥10,320
¥20,640

Softbank Monthly Service Cost
New Contract with MNP
Everyone else
16 GB
32 GB
64 Gb
16 GB
32 GB
64 GB
Monthly total
¥0
¥430
¥860
¥0
¥430
¥860
Unlimited data
¥4,480 (7GB)
¥5,460 (7GB)
ISP charge
¥315
Basic voice plan
¥980
Minimum monthly
payment
¥5,775
¥6,205
¥6,635
¥6,755
¥7,185
¥7,615
There was an error in this table. The data prices were flopped for MNP and existing customers. the ¥5,460 data price applies to existing customers and new contracts from people who don't port a phone number over from an existing contract with a Japanese carrier or MVNO.
Unlocked A149 model
The price of the current preorders from expansys is not set, but there is a UD$10 discount for preordering. This model is technically compatible with both Softbank and Docomo's networks.
百度