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How to Choose Internet Service in Japan (Fiber-Optics)

fiber-optics Japan

Fiber optic internet(or fiber-optics) is the fastest and the most popular home internet in Japan, so if you are searching for a home internet service for your long term live in Japan, it would most likely be fiber-optics. (the second popular option is WiMAX, if you are interested in it, go here.)

There are numbers of optical fiber internet service providers in Japan, but the question is, which one works best for you?

That depends on your internet usage habit, residential building type, and cell phone carrier.

Concerning those factors, for helping you to pick the best internet service for you, this article will talk about characteristics of the most famous fiber-optic services in Japan and compares their speeds, prices, and deals.

3 most famous fiber optic internet services in JP and their features

Before You Read...

There are two different types of companies in the Japanese internet industry. One is network operator(回線事業者 in Japanese) and the other is internet service provider(or ISP, プロバイダー in Japanese).

Simply put, network operators lend fiber-optic cables and other hardware for the internet connection to multiple ISPs, and using them, ISPs provides internet services to users. Sometimes one company can be both network operator and ISP.

In the past, it was often said that users need to make a contract with a network operator and an ISP separately for the internet in Japan. Fortunately nowadays in most cases, People just need to pick a fiber-optics service and get a single contract with an ISP which provides that service.

The three most famous fiber optic internet services in Japan are,

• au HIKARI(auひかり)
• FLET'S HIKARI(フレッツ光)
• NURO HIKARI(NURO光)

And, below is a brief explanation about the features of those services and internet service provider(ISP)s of them.

au HIKARI

auhikari

Network operator for the service: KDDI
(one of the biggest telecommunications companies in Japan)

au HIKARI(auひかり) is the optical fiber cable internet service that has a wide service area all over Japan(for now, au HIKARI is not available in Kansai area(Osaka, Hyogo, Aichi, Kyoto, Nara, Fukui, Shiga, and Wakayama), but instead, eo HIKARI(eo光) of the same quality with au HIKARI by the same group's company).

au HIKARI's strengths are a stable internet connection and the fastest average internet speed among Japanese internet services whose advertising max speed is 1Gbps. au HIKARI is also known for its cheap monthly charges.

au HIKARI provides internet + smartphone service bundled discounts to whom get contracts for both au smartphone service(auスマホ) and au HIKARI.

There are 7 ISPs which provide au HIKARI internet, and basically, all ISPs of au HIKARI provide the same discount on a monthly charge via a promotion except So-net au HIKARI(So-net光auひかり). So-net au HIKARI provides more amount of discount on a monthly fee via a promotion than the other au HIKARI's ISPs.

• Official website of So-net au HIKARI(Japanese only): So-net au HIKARI(So-net光auひかり)

FLET'S HIKARI(フレッツ光)

FLET'S HIKARI

Network operator for the service: NTT
(also one of the biggest telecommunications companies in Japan)

FLET'S HIKARI(フレッツ光) is the fiber-optics service with the largest coverage area all over Japan.

FLET'S HIKARI's max internet speed is 1Gbps like au HIKARI, but its average speed is little slower than au HIKARI.

The main internet service provider(ISP)s for FLET'S HIKARI are So-net HIKARI collabo(So-net光コラボ), Softbank HIKARI(Softbank光), and Docomo HIKARI x GMO(ドコモ光×GMOとくとくBB).

And each company provides internet + smartphone bundled deals to, in order, au, Softbank, and Docomo smartphone users.

• Official website of the ISPs(Japanese only): So-net HIKARI collabo(So-net光コラボ) , Softbank HIKARI(Softbank光) , Docomo HIKARI x GMO(ドコモ光×GMOとくとくBB)

NURO HIKARI(NURO光)

NURO HIKARI

Network operator for the service: Sony

With the max speed 2Gbs, NURO HIKARI(NURO光) is the fastest home internet service in the world. So, this internet service is highly recommended for heavy internet users, especially gamers.

NURO HIKARI(NURO光) provides service in Kanto region(Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Ibaraki, Tochigi,and Gunma), Kansai region(Osaka, Hyogo, Kyoto, Shiga, and Nara), Tokai region(Aichi, Shizuoka, Mie, and Gifu), and Hokkaido(from December 12, 2019).

So-net NURO HIKARI(So-net NURO光) is the only ISP for NURO光, and it provides internet + smartphone bundled discounts to Softbank smartphone users.

• Official web page of the ISP(Japanese only): So-net NURO HIKARI(So-netNURO光)

• More details about NURO HIKARI(in English): NURO HIKARI(NURO光)

Which One for You?: Internet Service Recommendation in Japan

Internet in Japan recommendation

Choosing the best optical fiber internet in Japan for you depends on how important internet speed is to you, type of your residential building, and your smartphone carrier.

The Fastest Internet?

Japan internet speed

The fastest internet in Japan(also in the world) is NURO HIKARI(NURO光) whose max speed is 2Gbps.

NURO HIKARI is the only fiber-optics service in Japan that provides the max speed. All other service's max speeds are 1Gbps.

japan internet speed comparison

For work, study, games, or etc., if you use the internet a lot in Japan, NURO HIKARI(NURO光) is highly recommended.

However, mentioned above, people who live in an apartment with 8 and more floors can't get a contract for NURO HIKARI.

Below is the NURO HIKARI's promotion(キャンペーン in Japanese) that provides cashback and free fiber-optic cable installation.

nuro hikari

Monthly Charge
3-year contract: 5,200 yen
2-year contract: 5,700 yen

Cashback Amount
45,000 yen
+ Free fiber installation

* This special promotion applies only to whom get a contract for the internet on this promotional web page.

Promotional web page: NURO HIKARI (Japanese only)

However, if you can't get a contract for NURO HIKARI because your place doesn't meet building structural requirements or is out of the service area, the second recommendation is au HIKARI(auひかり).

It was previously mentioned that all Japanese fiber-optics services, except NURO HIKARI, provide the internet with the max speed of 1Gbps.

However, even though their max speeds are the same, their average internet speed varies.

au HIKARI(auひかり)'s average internet speed is the fastest among fiber optic internet services in Japan. It's because there are fewer internet service providers (ISP) which share the line than other optical fiber lines like FLET'S HIKARI(the more ISPs share one line, the slower internet speed.)

So-net au HIKARI(So-net光auひかり) is an ISP which provides au HIKARI(auひかり) service with the most reasonable monthly charges.

You can get a deal of au HIKARI from the promotional link below.

au hikari

ISP: So-net光auひかり

Monthly Charge
House Course(3-year contract): 3,980 yen
Mansion Course(2-year contract): 2,200 yen
(*charges above already include monthly partial payments of the fiber installation fee, so you don't need to pay extra money for the installation)
+ Free charge for the first month

+You can get up to 30,000 yen for switching your current internet service to au HIKARI(auひかり).

Promotional web page: au HIKARI (in Japanese only)
(promotion period: 2021.10.1~ 2021.10.31)

*KANSAI AREA(Osaka,Kyoto,etc.,) LIMITED INFO

au HIKARI is not available in Kansai area(Osaka, Hyogo, Aichi, Kyoto, Nara, Fukui, Shiga, and Wakayama) for now, but instead, eo HIKARI(eo光) internet by the same group's company can be ordered.

eo HIKARI provides the internet with the same speed and stability of au HIKARI for a reasonable price.

This service is specialized for the Kansai area like Osaka and Kyoto, so eo HIKARI is strongly recommended for those who live in the Kansai area, but people in other areas can not order or use this service.

Below are the deals of eo HIKARI and the promotional link for it.

House Course: 3,248 yen(for 12 months)
Mansion Course: 2,776 yen(for 24 months)

Free fiber installation / 3,000 yen~10,000 yen gift card

Promotional web page: eo HIKARI(eo光)


The Lowest Cost Internet?

Japan internet cost

Here, monthly charges of fiber-optics' ISPs in Japan will be compared, then you will know which one is the most reasonable.

Monthly charges of House(戸建て) Course and Mansion(マンション) Course will be separately compared.

(House Course is payment course for whom lives in a house, and Mansion Course is for whom live in an apartment.) 

Japan home internet cost

House Course(戸建てタイプ) 

Internet Service
(fiber-optics)
au HIKARI
(auひかり)
FLET'S HIKARI
(フレッツ光)
NURO HIKARI
(NURO光)
Monthly Charge 5,390~5,610 yen 5,280~6,270 yen 5,200 yen

Although the table above shows that NURO HIKARI's monthly charge is the cheapest, actually, you can get a better deal with au HIKARI(auひかり).

au HiKari's price in the table is before any discount through its promotion. Basically, au HIKARI's internet service provider(ISP)s give their customers a discount for a monthly usage charge, as a result, the monthly fees for the House Course of au HIKARI becomes 4,785 yen for 2 years and 6 months.

If you get a contract for au HIKARI with an ISP, So-net au HIKARI(So-net光auひかり) you can get even more discount.

For a 3-year contract, So-net au HIKARI offers au HIKARI for 3,980 yen a month, and this monthly fee already includes monthly partial payments of the fiber installation fee.

So, by contracting with So-net au HIKARI, you can save the most money for the fiber optic internet. 

The link below leads to the promotional web page(in Japanese) that you can start to use au HIKRI's House Course for 3,980 yen a month.

• au HIKARI House Course for 3,980 yen/month (3-year contract)

To conclude, for House Course, So-net au HIKARI(So-net光auひかり) provides the cheapest fiber-optics service, and the second-cheapest is NURO HIKARI(NURO光) with the charge of 5,200 yen/month. Below is the link to NURO HIKARI's promotional web page(in Japanese).

• NURO HIKARI(NURO光) promotional link

Internet in Japan for apartment

Mansion Course(マンションタイプ)

Internet Service
(fiber-optics)
au HIKARI
(auひかり)
FLET'S HIKARI
(フレッツ光)
NURO HIKARI
(NURO光)
Monthly Charge 4,180 yen 3,850~5,060 yen

In the table above, Mansion Course's monthly charges look similar for au HIKARI and FLET'S HIKARI,

However, like the way of House Course, via the promotion of So-net au HIKARI, you can use the internet for 2,200 yen/month for the first 2 years. Below is the promotional link that you can get a contract for the price.

• au HIKARI(auひかり) Mansion Course 2,200 yen/month for the first 2 years.

For FLET'S HIKARI(フレッツ光)'s Mansion Course,

Monthly fees vary depending on its internet service provider(ISP).

Softbank HIKARI(Softbank光)'s monthly charge is 4,180 yen/month, Docomo HIKARI(ドコモ光)'s is 4,180 yen, and So-net HIKARI Plus's is 3,850~5,060 yen.

So for Mansion Course, au HIKARI(auひかり)'s monthly charge is the cheapest, and the second-cheapest one is FLET'S HIKARI's.

Below are the promotional web pages of FLET'S HIKARI(フレッツ光)'s ISPs.

• FLET'S HIKARI(フレッツ光)'s promotional web pages: So-net HIKARI collaboration(So-net光コラボ) , Softbank HIKARI(Softbank光) , Docomo HIKARI(ドコモ光)

There is Mansion Course for NURO HIKARI(NURO光), but yet, it's so hard to find apartments the course is available because, although NURO HIKARI launched in 2013, it is still too new service to make the course available.

So, its monthly fee for the Mansion Course is not shown in the table above.

If you want to make a contract for NURO HIKARI, whether you live in a house or an apartment, you should get a contract for House Course.

The Best Internet + Smartphone Bundled Deals?

japan smartphone

If your internet service provider(ISP) and smartphone carrier are the same company or affiliated companies, you can get a bundled discount for your smartphone's monthly charge.

However, each ISP offers a monthly bundled discount for different smartphone carriers.

Below is the table showing ISPs which provide bundled deals for the most popular smartphone carriers in Japan and the amounts of discounts

 

Bundled Deals for Smartphone Carriers in Japan

Smartphone

Carrier

ISP Monthly Discount
au
au smartphone
au HIKARI
(auひかり)
550~2,200 yen
So-net HIKARI Collabo
(So-net光コラボ)
Softbank
Softbank smartphone
Softbank HIKARI
(Softbank光)
550~1,188 yen
NURO HIKARI
(NURO光)
Docomo
Docomo smartphone
Docomo HIKARI
(ドコモ光)
550~1,760 yen


Below is detail about bundled discounts for each smartphone carrier.

au Smartphone

au smartphone

For au smartphone service(auスマホ), So-net au HIKARI(So-net光auひかり) and So-net HIKARI Collabo(So-net光コラボ) offer the same deal.

au smartphone users can get a discount up to 2,200 yen/month depending on their smartphone's data plan.

Multiple discounts will be provided if the user's family members use au smartphones.

So-net au HIKARI is more recommendable than So-net HIKARI Collabo for au smartphone users. It's because even though they provide the same bundled discount, So-net au HIKARI's monthly charges of the internet are cheaper and the average internet speed is faster than those of So-net HIKARI Collabo.

Below is the link of the official web page that you can get the bundled discount for au smartphone service in addition to the discount for a monthly fee of internet.

au hikari

ISP: So-net光auひかり

Monthly Charge
House Course(3-year contract): 3,980 yen
Mansion Course(2-year contract): 2,200 yen
(*charges above already include monthly partial payments of the fiber installation fee, so you don't need to pay extra money for the installation)
+ Free charge for the first month

+You can get up to 30,000 yen for switching your current internet service to au HIKARI(auひかり).

Promotional web page: au HIKARI (in Japanese only)
(promotion period: 2021.10.1~ 2021.10.31)

*KANSAI AREA(Osaka,Kyoto,etc.,) LIMITED INFO

au HIKARI is not available in Kansai area(Osaka, Hyogo, Aichi, Kyoto, Nara, Fukui, Shiga, and Wakayama) for now, but instead, eo HIKARI(eo光) internet by the same group's company can be ordered.

eo HIKARI provides the internet with the same speed and stability of au HIKARI for a reasonable price.

This service is specialized for the Kansai area like Osaka and Kyoto, so eo HIKARI is strongly recommended for those who live in the Kansai area, but people in other areas can not order or use this service.

Below are the deals of eo HIKARI and the promotional link for it.

House Course: 3,248 yen(for 12 months)
Mansion Course: 2,776 yen(for 24 months)

Free fiber installation / 3,000 yen~10,000 yen gift card

Promotional web page: eo HIKARI(eo光)


However, there is a possibility that you can't make a contract for So-net au HIKARI for some reason(for example, your building is located out of the service area). In that case, if you live in Kansai area such as Osaka or Kyoto, you can order eo HIKARI(eo光) as it provides the same deal.

And, if you live in other areas, So-net HIKARI Plus is recommended as it still offers a good deal for fiber-optic internet.

You can get a bundled discount for au smartphone service in addion to a discount for monthly charge of the internet by making a contract for So-net HIKARI Plus via the following promotional link.

sonet hikari plus

Monthly Charge
House Course(3-year contract): 2,980 yen(for the first 1 year)
Mansion Course(3-year contract): 1,980 yen(for the first 1 year)
+ Free monthly charge for the first month
+ Free fiber installation

* This special promotion applies to whom get a contract for the internet on this promotional web page only.

Promotional web page: So-net HIKARI Plus(So-net光プラス)
(promotion period: 2021.10.1~ 2021.10.31)

Softbank Smartphone

softbank smartphone

Softbank HIKARI(Softbank光) and NURO HIKARI(NURO光) offer an internet+smartphone bundled discount to Softbank smartphone users.

Both of them offer their customers up to 1,188 yen off a month and provide multiple discounts to a family if two or more of family members use SoftBank smartphones.

If you are a Softbank smartphone user and live in an apartment in Japan, Softbank HIKARI is cheaper than NURO HIKARI, but if you live in a house, NURO HIKARI is more recommended as its monthly fee is cheaper and internet speed is almost two times faster than those of Softbank HIKARI.

Below are promotional links to the websites of Softbank HIKARI(Softbank光) and NURO HIKARI(NURO光) in turn.

softbank hikari

Monthly Charge
House Course(2-year contract): 5,720 yen
Mansion Course(2-year contract): 4,180yen

Promotion
37,000 yen cashback
*This 27,000 yen cashback is provided only when you make a contract on 5th,11th,15th,22nd, and 25th dates of any month.
*If you order SoftBank HIKARI on the other dates, cashback will be 15,000 yen.

+ If you switch your current internet service to Softbank HIKARI,
• You can get up to 100,000 yen
• Up to 24,000 yen fiber installation fee will be waived

Promotional web page: Softbank HIKARI(Softbank光)
(promotion period: 2020.6.16~ 2021.10.31)


nuro hikari

Monthly Charge
3-year contract: 5,200 yen
2-year contract: 5,700 yen

Cashback Amount
45,000 yen
+ Free fiber installation

* This special promotion applies only to whom get a contract for the internet on this promotional web page.

Promotional web page: NURO HIKARI (Japanese only)

Docomo Smartphone

Docomo smartphone

There are several internet service provider(ISP)s of Docomo HIKARI(ドコモ光 in Japanese, one type of FLET's HIKARI internet service) which provide the same bundled deal for Docomo smartphone.

They offer up to 1,760 yen off a month for whom use individual data plans and up to 3,850 yen off a month for whom use family data plans.

Docomo HIKARI GMO(ドコモ光×GMOとくとくBB) is the most recommended ISP for Docomo smartphone users here as with the same bundled deal, its monthly charge is 550 yen cheaper, and with a special connection feature called IPv6, it offers faster average internet speed than other Docomo HIKARI ISPs.

Below is the link to the official web page that you can make a contract for Docomo HIKARI with a cashback and Docomo points.

docomo hikari gmo

Monthly Charge
House Course(2-year contract): 5,720 yen
Mansion Course(2-year contract): 4,400 yen
+ Free fiber installation

Cashback
up to 20,000 yen
2,000 yen d points
(d points can be used for monthly charge of smartphone or shopping)

+ You can get 20,000 yen for switching your current internet service to Docomo HIKARI

* This special promotion applies only to whom get a contract for the internet on this Promotional web page.

Promotional web page: Docomo HIKARI GMO(ドコモ光×GMO)
(promotion period: 2020.7.16.~ 2021.10.31)