DSL and Fiber Optics
DSL and fiber optic connections are some of the easiest services to shop for. If you remember our article about comparison shopping in websites in Japan, you can use websites like kakaku.com to shop for broadband services and providers.
The process is as simple as putting in your postal code, selecting what service you want (DSL or fiber) and seeing the various deals offered by a variety of providers. In theory, provider prices don't differ that much despite the competition but sometimes comparison websites will offer promos and providers may give you a few months free.
One thing to keep in mind when comparison shopping is that the price listed is only the provider's service fee (check out our previous article for more explanation on internet lingo). The carriers (NTT East/West, KDDI, etc) have separate service fees on top of the price your pay the carrier. Carrier fees generally differ depending on the type of house/apartment you live in, service area, and so on. As a rule, single home connections are generally more expensive than apartment connections. For a fiber connection, expect to pay around 6000 yen or more with all the fees combined.
Most electronics retailers also sell fiber optic and DSL connection. The only advantage of setting up your contract at a store is that electronic retailers often give out gift cards and other goodies if you sign a contract with one of their preferred providers. The down side is that you only can choose from the service providers who have a deal with the electronics retailer in question.
Since cable services are almost always run by smaller local companies, you can't usually find their rates posted online. Therefore, it never hurts to ask around about who the local cable company is and, if you can borrow a computer, search their website for rates. While cable prices differ significantly from area to area, they generally are competitively priced.
If you are in the market for Wi-Max or a data 3G connection, you can shop for prices much like DSL and fiber optics. Kakaku.com offers a search option as and major electronics retailers also sell connections and modems. However, unless you live in a densely populated area, don't expect these connections to be readily available or particularly competitively priced.
One final word of warning, keep in mind the length of the contract when you sign up for any service. If you do not plan to stick around the same area for a long time, then avoid deals that have multi-year contracts. If you aren't confident with your Japanese, ask a friend or call the provider directly to inquire about any contractual obligations. Generally, companies that offer special sign-up bonuses will have a contract of at least 1 year or more.
Other Posts in this Series#2 Carriers and Providers
#3 Shopping for Service
#4 Signing up
#6 Optional Services