2 Types of Internet Company in Japan: Network Operator & ISP

You need to know the differences between network operators and internet service provider(ISP)s in Japan to understand internet service in Japan.

This article will explain the differences between them.

The Roles of Network Operator & ISP

Internet service in Japan is co-provided by these two companies.

Network Operator
Internet Service Provider(ISP)
(company lands the line and hardware to ISP)
(company connects users to the internet)

Network operator(回線事業者 in Japanese) lands the line and devices necessary for the internet connection to internet service providers(ISP, プロバイダー in Japanese).

And, internet service provider actually connects users to the internet by sending internet signals with those devices.

In some cases, one company can be both network operator and ISP.

The Relationship between Network Operator and ISPs
flets hikari


The three of the most popular Japanese network operators(also internet service name as well) of fiber-optics internet are FLET'S HIKARI(フレッツ光), au HIKARI(auひかり), and NURO HIKARI(NURO光).

The network operator of WiMAX is UQWiMAX.

Multiple ISPs can borrow one line, so there are multiple ISPs which provide one internet service to their customers.

For example, FLET'S HIKARI's fiber-optic internet service is offered by SoftBank HIKARI(SoftBank光), Docomo HIKARI GMO(ドコモ光×GMOとくとくBB), and So-net HIKARI Collabo(So-net光コラボ),

and UQWiMAX's WiMAX service is provided by BIGLOBE, GMO WiMAX, and So-net WiMAX.

Get a Contract for the Internet Only with an ISP

In the past, when people wanted the internet service, they needed to get a contract for the internet with a network operator and ISP separately(thus there were two separate bills from each company).

But, now in most cases, people can make a contract only with an ISP(this website doesn't cover the internet services need separate contracts from the network operator and ISP, so you don't need to worry about them at all).

A Tip for Internet Contract in Japan

As ISPs far outnumbers internet services in Japan, making a contract for the internet gets much easier if you decide on an internet service first, pick an ISP which provides that service, and make a contract with that ISP.

What's Next?

If you want to read about speed and price comparison of fiber-optics internet's ISPs in Japan, click the link below.

⇒ Fiber-Optics ISP

And, if you want price comparison of WiMAX ISPs, click the link below.