Rental Phones and prepaid SIM cards

Rental phones in Japan

Rental phones: where to find them?

This is a short introduction on how travelers to Japan can acquire rental phones and prepaid SIM cards in Japan.

As mobile phones become more and more prevalent all over the world, many travelers are confronted with the question, whether their phones can be operated in Japan or not. While Japanese enterprises are certainly in the forefront of mobile phone innovation and developement, Japan does not use GSM/EDGE/GPRS networks, therefore mobile phones solely based on GSM will not work.

In order to use a non-Japanese mobile phone in Japan, it has to be compatible with Japanese mobile phone networks (3G UMTS 2100 MHz or 3G CDMA2000 800 MHz). Such sets can be used via international roaming (although roaming fees might amount to astronomic levels!) or via wireless networks (WiFi) permitting internet telephony (VoIP) through services like Skype.

Another alternative is to acquire a rental or prepaid SIM card from a Japanese carrier or to rent a phone plus SIM card. SIM cards and rental phones can be acquired at Narita Airport, Haneda International Airport, and Kansai International Airport or through rental phone companies, who will mail the set and the SIM card to your hotel or your residence.

The three major mobile phone operators in Japan are NTTdocomo, SoftBank, and au/KDDI. As of 2011, all of them offer 3G models, such as the iPhone, but only SoftBank has a 3G/UMTS SIM card-based prepaid service. You can find more information on providers and rates below.

Related Links from the Japan Directory

International SIM Cards

Related Link from the Japan Forum


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