Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Wifi for Japan!

GoogleMap is my best travelmate .. to explore the town on foot (anything within 30minutes(~3km) is very walkable!), to make my way to guesthouse reserved via agoda/ For the case of Japan, one can even check the train schedule and timing and opt for the fastest route to your destination.

I would usually download the map in the vicinity using hostel/convenience store wifi first before leaving the hotspot area. then set my phone into flight mode, turn on GPS. This can be troublesome and stressful sometimes, but what to do? travel budget ma. Flight mode also saves battery for more photos.

In my magical month-long trip to Japan earlier this year, TelecomSquare has generously sponsored their Wi-Ho! wifi router with LTE connection to cover my whole trip! So I could access GoogleMap without having the trouble to preload the maps, and on top of that to do 'live' facebook updates wherever I go. (Very important to clear photo backlogs)

model L-02F Wi-Ho! wifi router
So what has NJM covered 30 days in Japan aside from WWOOFing with the Yamano's in Kisarazu? GoogleMap has helped me to draw it out (:

Kyojinten, Ueno
View from Tokyo WTC, Hamamatsucho
Edo Wonderland, Nikko
Nokogiri Mountain, Chiba
Kanmangafuchi Abyss 
Monjayaki, Tsukishima
Urabandai, Inawashiro
Shibuya Crossing
Snow Monkey Park, Nagano

Let's talk more about the wifi router. Mine was the WIDE type which provides the largest available LTE areas in Japan (using NTT Docomo network). It is small and light (156g), with language setting to operate in English/Japanese. Fully charged battery can last for one full day of non-stop travelling (13~16hours) with 3+hours charging time. Throughout the trip, the connection was strong and stable (though sometimes will drop to E when I was deep inside the mountain). Connection can be shared with up to 9 devices. You can also monitor the data usage as it is shown clearly on the main screen.

Like every other "unlimited data" plan, there is a data fair usage policy which defines "unlimited". I used up 7G(!) of fast data in my first three days (because I forgot to turn off my dropbox auto-sync on PC) and had to survive on 0.1Mbps speed for both upload and download thereafter. The normal LTE speed was around 18Mbps download/4.5Mbps upload. Luckily the speed got restored once we crossed from Jan to Feb. Moral of the story: turn off auto-sync for apps.

Network speed test

Steps to Get WiHo!
1. Order Online here:
2. Specify which cities you are going to visit in Japan (I changed my travel plan last minute to include Nagano and had no problem getting LTE there using the same device, but not advisable lah)
3. Specify which airport counter do you want to pick-up (take note of their operating hours) and return the device (you may drop it into a box if your flight is outside their operating hours and also collect / return the device at different airports)
4. Add on optional items e.g insurance, extra battery, concierge service.
5. Pay using credit card
6. Wait for the email confirmation and the start of your trip

So what are your options if you are travelling to Japan?

and now TelecomSquare is giving 30% discount for WIFI router orders made using my link (:

WIDE type: 1625yen 1137yen = RM36.34 = SGD12.75
CITY type: 1296yen 907yen = RM28.98 = SGD10.17 (as of 11 Aug 2015)

Making comparison against other unlimited data roaming plans in Malaysia and Singapore:
Singtel S$20/day - Softbank + NTT Docomo
M1 S$15/day - Softbank
Starhub S$18/day - NTT Docomo
Celcom RM38/day - Softbank
Digi RM56/day - NTT Docomo
Maxis RM38/day - NTT Docomo

Do note that you will need to select the specific telco or else you will get charged per kb usage. Also, roaming will drain your phone battery faster (even faster if you use it as a router).

You would have noticed that the WIDE Type router above looks slightly different from the one I used. That is because TelecomSquare has provided their latest model to me as Hoshino Project participant. Lets see the specification comparison below:-

(info from

WIDE (latest model)
Model Name
Network Speed * (Download / Upload)
150 Mbps / 75 Mbps
75 Mbps / 50 Mbps
75 Mbps / 50 Mbps
13 hours
6 hours
9 hours
Max # connecting devices
Size / Weight
97×62×19.5 mm / 156g
122 x 64 x 15.9 mm / 156g
90×56×19.9mm / 150 g
Wifi Standard
Charging duration
3.5 hours
5 hours
3.6 hours
Charging cable
USB Micro B
USB Micro B
USB Micro B
4G:LTE Xi(2100)
3G:W-CDMA FOMA High Speed
*best effort

Main difference between the models for WIDE is the battery durability and the theoretical max network speed.

FAQs (lifted from TelecomSquare)

Q1 How do I place an order?
Click the "Order Now" button on the right corner of the homepage and place your order online.

Q2. When should the order be placed? 
3pm of the day before pick up at airport counter. Allow an additional day for delivery.

Q3. How are the rates calculated? 
Your billing cycle will begin on the day the devise is picked-up or delivered, and is charged through the date the device is returned. For example, if the pick-up is on the 12th and returned on the 16th, you will be charged for 5 days rental. For delivery, charges will commence upon receipt of the device through the dispatched date. Please note that you will be charged the daily rate for each day the device is late.

Q4. Where do I find the user guide for my device? 
A User's Guide booklet is included with every device.

Q5. Can I pick up and/or return the device at different airports?
Absolutely, at no additional cost.

Q6. What should I do if I forget to return the device?
Please return the device to the following address. The sender will be responsible for the delivery costs and any applicable late fees.
Telecom Square Inc., Narita Branch, Narita Asahi Building 1F, 2152-2 Fudougaoka, Narita-shi, Chiba, Japan 286-0044 Tel: +81-3-3239-3422

Q7. Can I get a copy of my receipt?
One will be provided to you upon returning the device.

Q8. Insurance 
Insurance is optional. However, compensation fees will be discounted/waived in case of loss, theft or a damage of device with enrollment in our insurance plan.

Q9. Late fees 
You will be charged a daily rate for each day the device is late. If the extension period is over 7 days, please contact customer support.

Q10. Cancellation fees 
No cancellation fee payable if you cancel 2 days (48 hours) prior to pick up. You will be charged 1,080 yen/unit and the cost of delivery if you cancel within 48 hours of the pick up date.

Q11. What should I do if my device is lost or stolen? 
Please contact our customer support immediately. We will suspend the line and arrange a replacement device at your request. Additional handling and delivery charges will be applied for device replacement.

Let me know if you have further questions on getting the device!

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