Flat rate international roaming packet services

For the Japanese folks, this info is a bit old. But I realized talking with non-Japanese folks that many of them didn't know this so I thought I'd write this post.

** The Problem **

Global roaming fee had been a headache for most travelers... the options were, we either:

1) give up and try to hop through wifi spots or go to internet cafes
... this was what I usually did when I was a traveler. Before that, I thought if I lose internet I might not be able to survive. Internet connection was like oxygen to me. I was totally Internet addicted, Twitter addicted. Actually I learned how to survive- I had no internet connection at all for 4 whole days trekking in Machu Picchu :)

2) get a local SIM
... I sometimes do this in U.S. when my stay is long. But it is annoying to do this in each country you go, you don't know the language and you don't know the pricing models in that country, you don't know which career is good etc... it is painful.

Update 11/3:
@miyagawa taught me an awesome wiki "Pay as you go sim with data Wiki"
See also his blog post "Hacking Japanese mobile plans for geeks (or travelers)"
Thank you for the info Miyagawa-san!

3) use the SIM from the country of origin and "behave" not to use too much packets
... this is what people usually does.

4) use the SIM from the country of origin and use it as you want to.
... this is called "パケ死 (packet death)"

** The Solution **

In order to solve this problem, Japanese mobile carriers - Softbank and NTT docomo started to provide flat rate international roaming packet services several months ago.

Info in English for Softbank's service for iPhone/iPad

Info in English for NTT docomo's service

** How did this happen? **

Masayoshi Son, CEO of mobile carrier Softbank received a mention to his Twitter account (@masason) in April to request flat rate international roaming packet service. Maybe he already had some kind of plan already before replying, but his reply was " Let's consider that". A month later, he comes back with the tweet that Softbank will actually start that service from July. Some of the tweets from the conversation:


User: Can't you do anything about the ridiculously expensive international roaming cost?

Son-san: Let's consider providing flat rate international roaming packet service from countries that are possible.

出来る国から海外パケホーダイを検討してみましょう。RT @OKAMOTOAtusi: 海外ローミングの法外な価格設定だけはなんとかなりませんか。


User: Son-sama, if you can make the packets I tweet overseas a flat rate, I will run to Softbank shop and switch to Softbank now!

Son-san: Will consider providing it from countries that are possible.

出来る国から検討します。RT @chisato_mzn: @masason 孫さま、海外でツイした分も一定料金にしていただけたら、今すぐショップに走ってソフトバンクに乗り換えます!


User: Even if iPad is SIM locked, it would not be a problem if global roaming fee is fixed price.

Son-san: Let's do it. From major countries. Flat rate international roaming packet service.

User: Please do it with iPhone too.

Son-san: Yes.

はい。RT @eisuke0312: iPhoneでもお願いします。 RT @masasonやりましょう。主要国から。海外パケ定額。RT @hayatomo0711: iPadがSIMロックされていても、普通なら問題ないと思うんです。海外ローミングの料金さえなんとかしてしてくれたら…


User: I can't use (data) outside Japan with current price setting!

Son-san: Fixed. We will start flat rate international roaming packet service from late July in major countries. Details to follow.

決定しました。海外パケ定額7月下旬に主要国開始。詳細は後日。RT @hemolelelilia: @masason 今の料金設定では海外で使えません‼


Son-san: We're ready. Starting flat rate international roaming packet service from 7/21. Countries fixed. You will be released from several 10,000 yen packet costs. http://bit.ly/bHrive


** But wait... is this really feasible? **

Softbank needs to pay other carriers - is it really possible to do flat rate?
User: Uh, are you going to be OK? lol

Son-san: If you use too much, we will be in the red. Please don't be too hard on us.

皆さんが、ガンガン使うと当方かなり赤字。お手柔らかに。RT @terrysaito だ、
大丈夫なのか? w RT 出来ました。7/21から海外パケ定開始。対象国も確定。


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