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Communications (Telephone, Internet, TV, Post)Back to top Back to main Skip to menu
Tokyo - Communications (Telephone, Internet, TV, Post)
Landline telephone calls in Tokyo are expensive. A telephone line must either be bought or rented – check with your property owner as to who pays for this, as it can cost around Y70,000 just for a line (without subscriptions or a phone). Some rented phone lines may not permit international calls. IP telephone services (OCN.Phone) – a telephone service using the internet broadband connection can be a less expensive option. Landline services are operated by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT). To install a new telephone line, call NTT at 116 (no area code necessary). You will need to have valid identification (e.g. alien registration card and passport).
Mobile phone service providers
Mobile phone usage in Tokyo is very prevalent. Mobile phone technology and features are very advanced, and is easy a year ahead of most other countries. Common mobile phone features are cameras, electronic train passes, games, music players, internet browsing (i-mode) and GPS/navigation.
For expatriates new to Japan's telecommunications system, the most important point to note is that there is no GSM network in Japan for mobile phones, so GSM network mobile phones will not work. Likewise, most Japanese mobile phones will not work outside Japan. Some 3G models are compatible with the Japanese network, so check with your mobile phone service provider before leaving for Tokyo. Most expatriates choose to take up a local rental SIM card from a Japanese provider with a Japanese phone number. Before taking up a subscription or prepaid service with any mobile phone operator in Japan, note that some Japanese mobile phones will work only with a particular service provider, so mobile phones are not easily interchangeable among Japanese mobile service providers.
There are a number of mobile phone companies in Tokyo – NTT Docomo, au by KDDI and Softbank are the bigger mobile phone companies. You can practically get a mobile phone from any retail store.
The Japan Yellow Pages is an English directory of services to be found in Japan.
It may be better for you to leave your television sets back in your home country. Japan is planning to end analog broadcasting by July 2011. Analog broadcasting will be replaced fully by digital broadcasting. Click here for more information about the schedule.
There are a number of television programmes broadcasted in both English and Japanese. NHK World TV broadcasts news and information programmes in English. You are required by law to pay NHK a receiving fee for public broadcasting programmes. With satellite or cable television programmes (paid channels), expatriates can find the usual mix of movies and television series.
Broadband and Wireless Services
Internet services are accessible throughout Tokyo. Apart from the traditional dialup/ISDN connections, you can choose to connect by ADSL, Hikari Fibre (Fibre Optic) or Cable. ADSL is similar to DSL used in the US, and is widely used in Japan. This service is relatively inexpensive and there are several providers to choose from. The fiber-optic network is provided by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company). The necessary infrastructure has to be available in order to sign up for a fibre-optic package. Most new buildings in Central Tokyo are fibre-optic ready. Some expatriates choose a cable modem and tv package at some discounts. Again, the building has to be cable-ready.
The Japan Post Network runs the postal service in Japan. At the time of writing, the postal service is currently undergoing a privatization exercise. Door-to-door mail service (takuhaibin delivery service) is available. A mailbox is called a posuto.
Tokyo's numbering system for addresses can be complicated for first-timers. In the past, the buildings were numbered according to when they were developed, hence building number 1 and building number 2 today are not necessarily next to each other. This is part of the reason why location maps, even hand-drawn ones, are always distributed. Not all Japanese streets are named as well. Include the 7-digit Japanese postal code numbers to aid delivery.
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