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T-mobile in Japan?

Old Dec 27th, 2016, 09:51 AM
  #1  
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T-mobile in Japan?

Many Fodorites rent a wifi hotspot for their trips. For five weeks this would be pricey.

I have T-Mobile in the US and it has worked flawlessly in Europe. I understand that performance in Thailand is also, for the most part, just fine.

Does anyone have experience with T-mobile in Japan? I need texting capability, especially for bank codes for two-factor identification. Phone calls I can do with Skype at the hotel.

Data for web searches and navigation would be helpful as well.
Meredydd is offline  
Old Dec 27th, 2016, 10:03 AM
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I rented WiFi for 4 weeks earlier this year and thought it very cheap. What prices are you finding?
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 10:17 AM
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I've just now found -- with no search effort really expended -- about $200 US for five weeks -- not nearly as bad as I feared. That is through a JRPass vendor.

Does carrying a pocket wifi unit (I assume you have it literally in pocket and your phone set to pick up its signal) solve the problem of receiving text messages?

Sorry for such naive questions.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 12:01 PM
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We were in Japan for a month in October. T-Mobile text and data (including navigation with Google Maps) worked well for us everywhere we visited (Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Naoshima, Matsumoto, and Kanazawa). We have the plan that includes free international roaming.

We also accessed wi-fi when staying in our accommodations but found no need for a pocket wi-fi outside of the hotels since the T-Mobile roaming worked when we needed it.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 02:02 PM
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I just spent five weeks in Japan, points south and west of Kyoto including Shikoku and northwest Kyushu. T-Mobile worked everywhere.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 03:29 PM
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As always, to everyone for the replies! Sounds like T-mobile will suit well, so I just need to bump up my data allowance for the duration of the trip.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 03:32 PM
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What kind of deal do you have with T-Mobile? I have month to month with unlimited low speed data, no need/ability to bump anything up. If you have a different deal you had better check you are covered for Japan.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 05:21 PM
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I have month to month with international. When I travel I change the data to unlimited. When I am home -- and use very little data -- I drop it to 1GB per month -- and save $40ish per month.

I haven't done the monthly cap change in a few months, so yes, I will check the latest terms of service.
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Old Dec 27th, 2016, 05:41 PM
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I also have T-Mobile and used it when I was in Japan earlier this year for two months. No problems. I have unlimited text and data with the plan I have and the low speed, as thursdaysd said, works fine for me to look at Google maps and for apps such as Hyperdia when I'm on the go. In hotels I usually have wifi for my tablet and laptop.

As far as text messages, for some reason when I had my phone turned off, they didn't come through when I put the phone back on. I called T-M about this but they didn't have any real answer. So you might need to keep your phone on, at least during hours when you expect texts....

Don't know anything about bank codes....

Enjoy your visit!
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Old Dec 28th, 2016, 09:20 AM
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I used Sakura Mobile in Japan for 8 weeks and 3geg of data and paid around $70 or 80. More expensive than in Europe. Good service. Sakura can ship the SIM to the post office in the airport or to your hotel prior to your arrival. I recommend it unless you can use your free T-Mobile service.
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Old Dec 28th, 2016, 10:33 AM
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I dropped T-Mobile some months ago in favor of Google Fi. This is $20 a month for unlimited voice and text, and $10 per gigabyte for data, same price worldwide and it is fast. It worked fine in Japan last month and previously in Israel, Turkey, and various European countries including the Faroes. The most I've used in a month is a bit over 1 gigabyte. Unused data carries forward.

https://fi.google.com/

It's a good solution for travelers, though it is a bit Geeky. You need a Google Nexus or Pixel phone that supports multiple cellular systems (in the US it uses the otherwise incompatible systems of both T-Mobile and Sprint), but you can also get additional data-only SIMs that work in ordinary phones and tablets.
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Old Dec 28th, 2016, 11:22 AM
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BTW The only time my bank requires two factor authentication via cellular text is when it thinks I am in a foreign location--i.e., precisely where most people do not have text available. It seems ignorant of the fact that it just dispensed me cash in the same location. The way around this (Geek alert) is to tunnel your browser through a VPN or SSH to your home location--I just use my office.

The combination of difficulty for regular users, trivial workaround, and lack of integration (with ATM use) tells you all you need to know about how much thought the banks put into this.
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