The most expensive data plan ever. Well, almost.

After touchdown the first item of business, after clearing customs and getting our bags, was to find something to drink and arrange a data plan! (Both items are on the ground floor on the triangle of needs).  We fixed the former with a vending machine and some gag reflexes.  Don’t choose your drinks based on the label color.  I had what I could only assume was tree bark and water for my first selection, and a seaweed water for my second.

Safety needs were solved with WPA.

The person who had previously conceived the triangle obviously didn't have facebook.

So, after much debate over which network was going to be our telecom bitch for the next 11 days we decided to check out Docomo. After finding the Docomo booth in Narita airport on the 4th floor, we quickly found out that they didn’t offer any phones on a rental/prepaid basis. Subscribers only. After unsuccessfully trying to explain that we didn’t need a phone but rather a SIM card with a data plan, I was told that Docomo network only works on Docomo phones. I showed her my HTC HD2 currently running on the docomo network (It is a telestra 9193 version)  and tried to explain that if I had a Docomo SIM card it would work on the network without any issues. Alas, this still didn’t result in us getting a SIM card due to issues with Docomo not issuing cards and plans without phones. At least she was impressed when I showed her my phone – enough to ask what kind it was and show it to all her colleagues.

After regrouping we headed back down to the first floor where we proceeded to check out the other wireless providers. We found a company that basically rents an LG USB stick with a docomo “FOMA” sim card already in it and activated. So as we proceed to test if it will work on our devices and with the aforementionned 3g hotspot router (which it doesn’t), the previous service rep from the Docomo counter upstairs shows up with a very worried look on her face and is concealing something behind her back. A bit confused and not fully realizing what was going on, I looked over and saw her clutching a docomo plastic bag with something in it. She asks us if we were missing anything. We look at one-another and proceed to check our pockets to make sure we all have our passports. She asks “Do you know if you are missing anything?” I ask immediately  “Is it money?”  She hesitates and answers “Um…” I ask if it is about 300,000¥. She nods about 4 times and doesn’t answer but just hands over the docomo bag with an envelope inside. I looked at Hinjew and FM and we shared a collective “WTF” moment. I tried to offer her 2000 yen as a thank-you for coming all the way downstairs and finding us. She refused and said that she couldn’t take it. Probably a better example than any I could have found to demonstrate Japanese hospitality and ethics.

After that mishap, we proceeded to book the hotel over our newly acquired 3g internet and, upon arriving , quickly setup shop.  The taxi was about 2000¥.   Because the USB stick they gave us didn’t work with our wifi access point I ended up just putting it’s SIM card into my HD2, configuring the APN and then using the WinMo built-in wifi router tool which basically replicates the functionality of the 3g WiFi Router.   In fact, the LG internet stick was offered with that particular SIM card as a “384kbps” data package (that is why it’s unlimited)…  Simply putting the SIM card into my HD2 and configuring the APN as below got it running on the 3.6Mbps HSPA network and it is now singing along at a consistant 3-400Kb/s instead of the previous 30-35.   That’s pretty much a win in my books.

The functioning APN for Docomo’s FOMA service (the SIM card will say FOMA on it)  is the following, if anyone is curious:

So, we’ve got the basics covered.  Now I just need to find something to drink that doesn’t taste like ass.

mm, EPICAC now available in sewage flavour.

The only good thing about this experience was the vending machine's awesome method of vending.

Comments (3)

ThundergoddessMay 23rd, 2010 at 12:40 pm

sleeping in (hinjew), hungover (thundergod), almost missing flights (joint effort I’m sure), blowing breakers due to over nerding on the plane (going to blame this on thundergod) and trying to give away 3000$ (I don’t want to know which one of you is to blame for this) good start guys!

tGMay 23rd, 2010 at 3:27 pm

It wasn’t my fault (pun intended).

[…] Hilton hotel nearby Narita airport (15 minutes before checking in, thanks to the data connection) setting up the wireless connection and then crashing hard at 10 PM. At about 2 AM, we woke up to the sound of Thundergod tapping away […]

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