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Want 12Mbits/sec for $21? Move to Japan. 594

gbjbaanb writes "Softbank, in Japan, has built a gigabit ethernet network to replace DSL over ATM, which costs peanuts to maintain and run. For $21 a month, Japanese users get 12Mb/sec, free VoIP (without quality loss) calls to users on the same network, (3c/min to New York), and DVD-quality movies. The company needs users to stay with the service for 15 months to break even, given that it is giving modems away for free."
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Want 12Mbits/sec for $21? Move to Japan.

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  • Serious Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Raul654 ( 453029 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:31PM (#6446187) Homepage
    Given that info, I'd be more than willing to sign up for the requisite 15+ months. So why can't they do something like that here in the States? What's holding them back - red tape, technical issues?
    • Re:Serious Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wren337 ( 182018 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:32PM (#6446219) Homepage
      Existing infrastructure, profit margins, lack of competition...
      • by Dysan2k ( 126022 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:46PM (#6446397) Homepage
        Existing infrastruction is a definate. They wanna make more money on existing pipes, etc.

        Profit margins? Well, I think there would definatly be more long-term (5+ year) profit than anything.

        Lack of competition. This is an interesting one. I think the competition could very well exist, but it's a lot of funding which isn't available in this economy.

        I believe another point is population density. Though people in the sticks would LOVE to have this kind of bandwidth, it's probably not cost-effective to run lines out into a sparesly populated area. Then again, they do run phone lines without worrying too much.
        • as far as phone lines is due to government subsidising.
        • Re:Serious Question (Score:5, Informative)

          by Synic ( 14430 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:08PM (#6446664) Homepage Journal
          Dysan2k said:
          Existing infrastruction is a definate. They wanna make more money on existing pipes, etc

          Synic's response:
          Note that the vast majority of fiber optics that were laid during the dot com period are all what's called "dark" fiber-- that is, they are not currently in use. The problem is that most people are still not on broadband, because it isn't cheap enough, and so the fiber optic networks that were laid down before the dot com bust are just sitting there dormant in the ground. A lot of the companies that funded the insanely rapid expansion of fiber optic networks went out of business (including larger ones such as MCI Worldcom). Some are struggling to get by (such as Qwest) by trying to market and sell their networks in new ways (Video-on-Demand is only one that comes to mind). Additionally, companies that were solely based on enhancing fiber optic technologies like amplifiers have all gone out of business or been gobbled up by larger fish (Cisco) and their products have not really come to market in a big way since there's already an overabundance of fiber in the ground.
    • by s0l0m0n ( 224000 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:34PM (#6446235) Homepage
      What's holding them back?

      The fact that the lot of them are money grubbing bastards with very little long term thinking ability.

      • by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @06:03PM (#6447239) Journal grubbing bastards with very little long term thinking ability.

        Are you talking about the executives, or the shareholders behind them who ignore everything their companies do other than expecting an 8% average annual growth of their portfolio? Investing for retirement? You and I might be part of the problem.

      • s2m0n,

        Well you did not state the facts professionally, but you got the facts 100% correct from my observations. I thought (and said) the Capitalist Republic, Politically correct FCC and do-nothing Congress might do something as far back as 1997.
        I gave up in 2000. There could and should be much better communications services in the USA. I live 40mi south of NYC and still can only get two phone lines ... no xDSL. Vorizon and others are charging prices (in the east) that are absurd. 128K up and 38
    • by stratjakt ( 596332 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:34PM (#6446243) Journal

      Look at how densely packed Japan is. Look at the huge expanses of empty land in the states.

      Doing it here means wiring to every single family home. Doing it there means getting 1000 customers per apartment complex you hit.

      It's oversimplifying, but it's the truth.
      • by Gherald ( 682277 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:36PM (#6446279) Journal
        Ahhh! the benefits of overcrowding.
        • Re:Serious Question (Score:5, Interesting)

          by superdan2k ( 135614 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:53PM (#6446478) Homepage Journal
          This may have been modded as Funny, and probably repeatedly so, but it's also very insightful. Certain things become more functional in an "overcrowded" situation -- things like structured high-bandwidth communications systems.

          It's also fun to watch people being herded into the subways in Tokyo at rush hour. Provided you're not claustrophobic, that is.
        • by Eric_Cartman_South_P ( 594330 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:15PM (#6446745)
          you'rerightovercrowdingcanbegood. justlookatallthespaceiamsavingwiththispost!

      • Re:Serious Question (Score:5, Interesting)

        by d2ksla ( 89385 ) <krister@k[ ] ['mla' in gap]> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @07:13PM (#6447901) Homepage
        Look at how densely packed Japan is. Look at the huge expanses of empty land in the states.

        Sweden is the size of California, but has only a quarter (9 million) of the population. Yet the broadband prices are similar to Japan ($40/mo for 26/26 Mbit/s).

    • by Shenkerian ( 577120 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:34PM (#6446244)
      Differences in population is probably a big factor, but I bet the dominant one is the US's government-granted monopolies on both telecommunication and coaxial cable infrastructures.
      • Re:Serious Question (Score:4, Interesting)

        by KrispyKringle ( 672903 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:14PM (#6446728)
        Actually, the monopolies exist on cable but not on telephone lines. The laws in regards to telephone lines, as I understand it, actually require the line owners to share the lines with other companies--originally with the purpose of enhancing telephone network inter-call-ability. Since these laws apply to DSL providors and the like, you can get, say, Earthlink DSL through Verizon lines.

        In comparison, the cable TV companies were granted regional monopolies, which still apply to cable ISPs, so there is very little competition in that arena. Which is why DSL is more socially responsible than cable.

        • Re:Serious Question (Score:3, Interesting)

          by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
          I tried to go with another phone provider besides Verizon in my area, and Verizon (after a long delay) politely told the small phone company that the "port could not be opened".

          So, I went w/o a phone for a few _months_ and finally went crawling back to Verizon.

          Almost 2 years later, Cox Cable calls me and asks "Would you like to switch to our phone network and save $10 a month?" I said yes.

          I dunno where they learned math at Cox, but I've always thought that 26 == 26, where 26 is the number of dollars per
        • The laws in regards to telephone lines, as I understand it, actually require the line owners to share the lines with other companies--originally with the purpose of enhancing telephone network inter-call-ability. Since these laws apply to DSL providors and the like, you can get, say, Earthlink DSL through Verizon lines.

          There was a recent ruling that changed this. I don't have time to do the research on it right now, but here's an extract from's analysys of The FCC'S UNE Triennial Review Orde
    • Re:Serious Question (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Installing such a network in america would be much longer, and a lot more expensive. You saw the size of Japan (you know where it is on the map right?) Installing a network in there takes much less time and much less wire. I don't even think Bill Gates have enough money to install that network in half of the US.

      Only hope for them that the servers will hold the bandwith and not crash within seconds.
    • Re:Serious Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Flabby Boohoo ( 606425 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:37PM (#6446284) Journal
      Read Cringley's column, he sums it all up quite nicely.

      Bottom line is that the baby bells don't want to spend the money. And they don't want to share.
    • What's holding them back - red tape, technical issues?

      There is an interesting article in the latest edition of Wired [] on some of the differences between the US and the EU and why this may be the case.

    • Given that info, I'd be more than willing to sign up for the requisite 15+ months. So why can't they do something like that here in the States? What's holding them back - red tape, technical issues?

      If you packed half the US population into 1/20th of the land space, the economy of scale would make it affordable enough. As it stands, to do this in the average US city (compared to the average city in Japan) would be ten times more expensive.

      Now there's nothing preventing anyone from doing this in high-den

    • Re:Serious Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by carlmenezes ( 204187 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:48PM (#6446420) Homepage
      I think it's a combination of a lot of factors:

      1) The Japanese are a people that seem to have an affinity for the latest gadgets and technology which is the reason a lot of really cool things show up first in Japan. Not sure if you can say the same about the average American.

      2) I don't know how it works in Japan, but over here in the States, it seems that corporations are really out to milk the customer for all the green they can get. So I don't think it's not possible over here. I just think that instead of giving you 12Mb/Sec, they'd start off with maybe 10 for the first few months, then chop bandwidth based on average usage and drive the price up while all the time telling you they're actually making things better - basically what's already happening to broadband.

      3) Also, if there was something like that over here, they would price it according to value. Let's face it : if people are willing to shell out approx $45 a month for cable/DSL, what would they pay for something like this? Answer : probably $100+ per month. Consequence : Nobody really buys it since the majority are not very tech oriented and really wouldn't see any justification to it.

      4) Finally, you wanna bet whether the MPAA is going to sit idly by when something like this is going on? They'll probably turn the whole thing into some really expensive form of "PPV over IP" (pay per view over iP).

      At the end of it all, look at the final price and ask yourself if you'd still go for it. And there you'd have the reason why it wouldn't work over here. If you boil it down to the basics, it's nothing but corporate greed.
    • by Keith Russell ( 4440 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:54PM (#6446499) Journal
      So why can't they do something like that here in the States? What's holding them back - red tape, technical issues?

      What holds up everything in American telecoms: The Last Mile. Our most common high-speed internet connections come from adapting the existing infrastructure, namely phone and cable TV. Nobody wants to run another line without justifying the cost. That's why rural areas were the last to get cable (and some may still be waiting!), while there's miles of dark fibre under many big cities.

      Japan is a logical place for something like this because the population is so incredibly dense. They wouldn't be able to break even after 15 months, except for that last mile connecting a tremendous number of households. You just can't get that kind of bang-for-the-buck in Montana! :-)

      Now, 2 cynical questions:

      1. How are the Terms Of Service? Are they as liberal as, say, Speakeasy, or is it a Comcast-style "pay triple for VPN" scam?
      2. Are they really breaking even after 15 months? Or are they breaking even after 12, and making the contract 15 to ensure some profit? Not that that's a bad thing in particular. My Inner Accountant thinks it's perfectly logical. :-)
      • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) *
        This infamous "last mile" has been holding things up for at least 5 years now. I don't believe that this is still the case. The demand and the hardware are there. But then again, companies like @HOME can go bankrupt while being a monopoly in a high demand market, so there must be many, many things I don't know about business.
      • by (startx) ( 37027 )
        Yes, many, many places in the US are still waiting for cable TV. I'm currently just a scant 30 miles from St. Louis, and there's no cable TV, the Satellite TV is shit on rainy or windy days, and pretty much nothing is a local phone call. Don't even ask about DSL either.
    • Re:Serious Question (Score:3, Informative)

      by walterbyrd ( 182728 )
      I think the telcoms in other nations are usually less privatized than in the USA. That $21 a month is subsidized by the government.
    • by chmilar ( 211243 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:08PM (#6446659)
      It might be due similar reasons why the Mobile Phone systems in Europe and Japan are so much better than in North America.

      In Europe, everyone decided to standardize on GSM for mobile phones. Then, they could focus on providing excellent service and services, instead of fighting over the "basics". They can move their infrastructure forward, instead of reinventing the wheel.

      In North America, the mobile providers picked different, incompatible technologies (even within the same company/network!). The idea was to foster competition and innovation. Instead, the whole thing has resulted in an annoying mess, and the customers have suffered.

      Europe still has a lot of competition in the mobile phone space, but it is based on open standards.

      The same situation happens with the "landline" phone companies. There is a lot of different technology out there, and a lot of "bridges" to glue networks together. Probably the only reason the networks interoperate at all is that they are built on top of a national infrastructure that was laid out before deregulation caused so much fragmentation.

      With a more uniform technology base, it would be possible to roll out new services cheaply and efficiently.

      You just have to be careful that the whole system doesn't stagnate because the standards are not flexible enough to move into the future, or that one company controls the whole thing, and it is too fat and happy to make progress.

      NTT, in Japan, probably has a nice infrastructure that allowed this network to be built. They probably learned their lessons from the Japanese TV and electricity fiascos (they have both PAL and NTSC TV systems, and both 110 and 220 volt power)!
    • "So why can't they do something like that here in the States?"

      Deregulation and corruption at the FTC. Poor SBC wants it all and can't sell T1's for thousands a month when bandwith is becoming a commidity.

      For those who complain about infustructure I say bullshit. Any modern city or even suburb has fiber optics already under their feet. Infact according to an older slashdot article 98% of all fiber is dark. Why? Because Verizon, SBC and others will refuse to let those who laid the wires play on their playg
  • omg! that is SUCH a great deal, compared to my sucky 256kb/sec line (that costs 40 !!!) yet another reason to move to the land of rising anime.
  • by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) * <jhummel@joh[ ] ['nhu' in gap]> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:32PM (#6446198) Homepage
    But between being wisked away while standing on Tokyo Tower to another dimension, having to get Giant Monster insurance, dealing with being either attacked or defended by pretty magical schoolgirls, and of course the nearly daily alien invasions and city-wide explosions with dueling robots - I'm just not so sure it's worth it.

    Then again, 12 Mbits is pretty good. Hm....
  • Then you can really be turning Japanese...
  • Wow! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Dirt-cheap, blazing-fast net access AND used schoolgirl panties sold in vending machines??? That's it, I'm moving!!!

    /me calls realtor.
  • Once users start logging onto this service, the downloading of tentacle pr0n will reach epic proportions.
  • by Webtommy88 ( 515386 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:32PM (#6446211)
    You know you're a nerd when big bandwidth makes you this [] happy :)
    • it could be the fact that he is believing he will regain his top 10 richest men in the world spot.

      I would be smiliing like fucking crazy if I thought I was sitting on the $100 billion winning lottery ticket #.
  • Keep in mind.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Vengie ( 533896 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:33PM (#6446221)
    Cost of living and land values in japan......before we jump the gun on how cheap this is. Look at the population density in certain parts of the island.....notably where this has been rolled out.
    • Look at the population density in certain parts of the island.

      You hit on a very good terms of pure area, you're not really looking at a huge plot of land in Japan. The cost of implementing something similar here in the States would be astronomically larger. However, that can't stop me from dreaming! ;)

  • AHHH (Score:2, Funny)

    by Pinguu ( 677142 )
    Want 12Mbits/sec for $21? Move to Japan.
    /me moves to Japan ;)
  • Turning Japanese, Turning japanese... he really thinks so!
  • by skidrowe ( 688747 ) <dave&roweware,com> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:33PM (#6446231)
    All you have to do is uncap your cable modem. Don't worry about the cable company, they won't ca- [Connection Lost]
  • by Anonymous Coward
    You fools!

    Just get a friend who lives in Japan to sign up and send you the modem in the mail.
  • by Valar ( 167606 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:34PM (#6446242)
    This is easier in Japan than in America, for two reasons. Firstly, Japan is very densely populated, compared to most parts of America, at least. Secondly, they are a very wired (well, wireless too) culture. From what I've heard, Japan's last generation was their wired generation, and this one is their wireless generation...
  • Want 26Mbps for $48.65 (USD)? (
    Move to sweden. [] (Bostream "scream" product page [])
  • by El ( 94934 )
    That's $21/month only until Softbank goes bankrupt and discontinues the service... read the rest of the article. There still using the dot com strategy of losing money on every customer, but making it up in volume.
  • Thanks, Softbank! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nacturation ( 646836 ) <> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:36PM (#6446269) Journal
    Now, thanks to thousands of vulnerable Windows boxes, I now have a combined total of 1644Mbps of bandwidth to DDoS sites with.

    On a more serious note, the cool factor of this is outstanding, but I sure hope they're handing out firewall software when they hand out those free modems on the street.
  • and in the states (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paradesign ( 561561 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:36PM (#6446276) Homepage
    it would cost $200 a month, have a DL cap at 10gigs, and only allow uploads at 128k.

    im moving to japan, whos with me?

  • by kraksmoka ( 561333 ) <grant.grantstern@com> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:37PM (#6446289) Homepage Journal
    no, seriously, i love sushi, and cute asian girls too. this could be the break i've been looking for!

    ok, maybe not :P

  • "jealous"? Which is what I am at the moment. Of course, Japan is a small, densely-populated nation, and I imagine this is a relatively easy network to set up and get customers for-- You'll have a lot of people close to the backbone. More power to Mr. Son-- I sincerely hope it works out as a business proposition.
  • Sign me up... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by SealBeater ( 143912 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:41PM (#6446321) Homepage
    nuf said. Tho I would love to see what they "allow" users to do with all that nice bandwidth.

  • What? and lose my 100 Mbits/sec for 10 euro connection? No way!

    Don't believe me? Check this [] out.

  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:43PM (#6446354) Homepage Journal
    Let's see here:

    (1) Cute Asian chicks
    (2) Tons of Anime
    (3) Sushi and lots of it
    (4) Massive broadband throughput
    (5) No DMCA (yet)
    (6) Sony
    (7) BeOS fanatics

    Hell..where do I sign up?
    • by forkboy ( 8644 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:17PM (#6446766) Homepage
      (8) Broom-closet sized apartments that cost thousands of dollars a month
      (9) Elbow-to-elbow people in almost any public place, all the time
      (10) Haughty disdain for Americans by most of the older population
      (11) Expect to work 12 hour days if you get a job there. Be ostracized and frowned upon if you don't. (if not fired outright)

      Did you still want to sign up?

      • by ag0ny ( 59629 ) <javi@lavande[ ].net ['ira' in gap]> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @11:11PM (#6449582) Homepage
        (8) Broom-closet sized apartments that cost thousands of dollars a month

        Not really. If you want to live in central Tokyo, it's going to be expensive, of course. You can find one-room apartments (around 20m2) starting at around 70000 yen (almost $600). The farther you go from the center of Tokyo, the cheaper it gets. Also, Tokyo is the most expensive city in Japan. Just go to Osaka or Hiroshima and you'll find 3 and 4-room apartments for a bit more than that (around 100000 yen/month).

        My wife an I are living in the east border of Tokyo (half an hour from Shinjuku), and we're paying $1100/month for a nice apartment (photos here []). Probably small by american standards, yes, but more than enough space for us.

        (9) Elbow-to-elbow people in almost any public place, all the time

        No. That's true only during rush hours (7:30-9:00am) and express trains in the afternoon/night. The rest of the time is quiet enough. And about crowded public places, these are only the places where lots of people go: Shinjuku [] (specially the Kabukicho district), Shibuya, Ikebukuro [] or Harajuku. And I bet you would pay to be there even if only to see the girls. ;)

        (10) Haughty disdain for Americans by most of the older population

        This is probably true (I'm spanish, and I've never been discriminated in any way in the time I've been living here). But I guess that the fact that most young people do like foreigners (ie: girls) compensates for it.

        (11) Expect to work 12 hour days if you get a job there. Be ostracized and frowned upon if you don't. (if not fired outright)

        I'm working in a Japanese company and I work 8 hours/day (like the rest here). Before being here, I was working also 8 hours/day. Anyway, if you don't speak Japanese (or don't want to), you can always find a job in an american company.
    • What!? You mean use Ruby instead of Python? No thank you.
    • You forgot:

      (8) Pay $1500 a month to live in an apartment half the size of your current bedroom.

  • 12? Pshaw! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Martin Kallisti ( 652377 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:44PM (#6446360)
    Here in Sweden, you can get [] 26 megabits/second, for $45/month. ^_^
    • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:35PM (#6446975) Homepage
      Damn, with that kind of bandwidth, you could digitize yourself, transmit yourself to Ireland, rape and pillage, and transmit yourself back at a profit.

      Viking never looked so attractive!
    • Re:12? Pshaw! (Score:5, Informative)

      by kir ( 583 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:57PM (#6447192) Homepage

      I live in Japan (not Tokyo though... and its not as "dense" here). Starting in Aug or Sept, YahooBB will be offering 26Mb/s for (from what I've been told) 300 yen more than their 12Mb/s service (which is about 3500 yen/month). I don't have YahooBB (I'm with NTT for static IP service that doesn't cost an arm and a leg), but many friends do. That BB phone is pretty damn cool (VoIP phone). No caps. No restrictions. Yes, they runs servers. Yes, they suck down things that would infringe on some FAT RICH bastard "Intellectual Property" rights...

      Did I mention my sister-in-law has 100Mb/s FTTH (Fiber To The Home)? I think she only pays ~9000 yen a month (~$85). Granted, she gets no where near 100Mb/s, but I have sucked a torrent or two down for her... AT ~40Mb/s! I swear, I heard a sucking noise coming from her computer while they were downloading. HE HE HE. When I saw that, I almost divorced her sister (my wife) and married her.

  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:45PM (#6446374) Homepage Journal
    please remember to turn off the lights?
  • by nsda's_deviant ( 602648 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:45PM (#6446379)
    So Masayoshi Son is betting the company and taking huge huge huge amounts of debt to build an incredible no where else on earth network that has great potential. Making telecoms obsolete and making media outlets change their game to provide on-demand tvshows/movies is world leading pace, but how is this guy going to keep it up if he can't make any money? The whole broadband pipe dream has been alive for decades around the world but recent US bankruptecies of big broadband (cite: XO []) argue that whoever builds the architecture is not the likely winner in reaping all the benefits. Its great for the average Japanese getting fat pipe, but the lack of ability to make any immediate profits are detering US cable cos to make great infastructure. Maybe I'm wrong here but this article just pushes the point that infastructue building is a thankless job. This article to me says that US isn't going to be getting ultra fat broadband anytime soon since no one is going to take the enormous (1-2billion reserve) financial hit. So the problem again arises, how is anyone going to make any (real) money by carpeting cities with broadband?
  • by arcanumas ( 646807 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:46PM (#6446393) Homepage
    Dear slashdot. I am writing you to inform you that this will be my last post from my country (Greece) as i am now moving to Japan. Don't worry though as i will be acquiring one of those new hyper fast connection that i saw on your site a moment ago.
    I will miss you while i try to settle to my new homeland and try to learn Japanese (Alas, whatching Bruce Lee movies has not been very helpful). I have to stop writing as my parents are coming to tell them goodbye (I haven't told them yet as it was decided 5 minutes ago.)
    Naturally as an adicted Slashdot reader i will find a place to live by submiting an "Ask Slashdot " Story and browsing at score 5.

    Your faithful reader.

    • Re:Dear slashdot (Score:3, Informative)

      by csguy314 ( 559705 )
      Naturally as an adicted Slashdot reader i will find a place to live by submiting an "Ask Slashdot " Story and browsing at score 5.

      For best results submit it here [].
  • by Schezar ( 249629 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:47PM (#6446405) Homepage Journal
    The main obstacle to having cool things like this in the US is twofold:

    1. Large landmass consisting of major population centers separated by great distances.

    2. Massive existing (and functional) infrastructure.

    We can't just "overhaul" the system: it's too deeply entrenched. Couple that with the fact that the majority of Americans can live without a lot of this tech, and that's the end of that...

    Why bother with the expense and hardship of upgrading a system that, for the majority of people, is just fine?
  • by nemaispuke ( 624303 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:51PM (#6446459)
    The difference doesn't necessarily have to do with population density and size, it has to do with adoption of technology both in the industrial/technological and consumer bases. American companies try to milk every last dime out of a technology before they adopt anything new (HDTV sound familiar)? And even then they complain that it will cost them billions, wah, wah! I have a great idea, bring a Japanese ISP over, snap up some of that dark fiber and see how long some of these lame ass ISP's hold out against a company wanting to actually do something for its customer base!
  • by ScottMaxwell ( 108831 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:52PM (#6446474) Homepage
    3c/min to New York

    Maybe I'm just being pessimistic, but I worry about the trend toward cheaper long distance, especially cheap international calling.

    Why? Well, if you think telemarketing calls are bad now, wait until every business on the planet can afford to call you. Just like spam, but with your damn phone ringing off the hook 24 hours a day.

    You can bet there's somebody in Japan who can afford to bug you for 3c/min, if it helps them sell a few more useless widgets.

    ``Every improvement in communication makes the bore more terrible,'' as Frank Moore Colby wrote.

  • 2 years ago (Score:3, Interesting)

    by presroi ( 657709 ) <> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @04:58PM (#6446547) Homepage []

    NTT to install 100 Mbit lines in the living room

    So, this is not really new news. Besids the fee.

    There must have been a /.-Story as well

    German headline follows:

    NTT legt 100-MBit-Leitungen bis ins Wohnzimmer

    NTT will heute einen Glasfaser-Breitbanddienst starten, der Übertragungsraten von bis zu 100 MBit/s schaffen soll. Nach einem Bericht von EETimes will die japanische Telefongesellschaft diesen Service den Endkunden für einen Grundpreis von deutlich unter 200 Mark pro Monat anbieten.

  • Cheap internet? Hah! (Score:5, Informative)

    by cybermace5 ( 446439 ) <> on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:05PM (#6446621) Homepage Journal
    Better hope you can fit into a wiring closet, if you think cheap bandwidth is a good reason to move to Japan. Even the smallest of basic one-person apartments, in the areas where this kind of bandwidth is available, cost upwards of $800/month. Not to mention the six month deposit.

    Basically, everything but bandwidth is expensive.

    In contrast I get a large kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms in a quiet neighborhood for $440/month. I have more space than I can use, fairly reliable 2mbps cable modem for $40 a month, room to park my car and money to put in my savings account. I'm not even home to use my bandwidth for ten hours of the day, and cable modem is more than fast enough. Ain't America great?
    • by zenyu ( 248067 )
      Even the smallest of basic one-person apartments, in the areas where this kind of bandwidth is available, cost upwards of $800/month.

      Heh, and I pay $1100 for my small one-person apartment in NYC and then $86 for 0.125 Mbps upstream (incl. cost of required phone-line I never even bothered to connect to a phone to)... how is this not a better deal again?

      Reminds me of that senator that interrupted Greenspan today after he said the 2 million jobs lost in manufacturing in the last year didn't matter because t
  • by noelp ( 524550 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:14PM (#6446738)
    This sounds great. If I lived in Japan, I would be signing up asap.

    However, I kind of feel this is just another step along a somewhat dangerous (maybe that is too strong a word, but bear with me) path.

    The internet, as it was envisaged, is designed to be a system whereby a large chunk of it can get destroyed/removed and data can still flow around that gap. Packets take all sorts of routes to get from A to B. All very good stuff, and something I am sure everyone is more than familiar with.

    So, a disaster of some description happens, and we can all still get most of what we want as a result of this clever system. But with increases in bandwith such as this, more and more content (some trivial, other very not so) is pushed to the edge of the network. One ISP goes awry now and a huge number of sites/content/services can just dissapear. These sites do not have multiple backbone connections etc etc. With bandwith such as discussed here, you can host a site for a pretty decent number of users. (Wont take much of a slashdotting...but never mind...)

    If people continue to push/provide content and services from the very edge of the network, then the very point of this network seems to be defeated. There is a lot of crap out there which I would not miss, but there is also a lot of stuff out there that I would. God bless the google cache is all I can say.


  • Ha! (Score:4, Funny)

    by InsaneCreator ( 209742 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:19PM (#6446787)
    That's nothing! I get 56kbps for $80 per month!

    (I think I'm gonna go sit in the corner and weep, now)
  • by HiGuys ( 689714 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:20PM (#6446799)
    We've got this hooked up in the house I live in just outside of Tokyo. We split it among all the members of the house.

    It's actually pretty sweet; the modem itself came with a little PCMCIA-like slot card as a part of a bonus offer, which gives us a pretty strong wireless LAN with no extra hardware (I'm two floors away from the modem, and it's a concrete earthquake-proof house); you just slide in the card and set up WEP or whatever. We also got this free calendar/calculator thingy which has a cool sliding mechanism. Hey, it was that or a coffee mug (or something else, I forget what). Anyhow, we also got 2 months (or was it 3?) free just for joining on top of all that.

    I can confirm what the article says about the teens in white jackets pimping the stuff outside of every station, too. They're everywhere.

    If anyone has any questions on the service, fire away. Despite the 24-hour porn dog in the next room over (he has somewhere near a 100 gig collection), the connection is still pretty speedy.
    • by HiGuys ( 689714 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:27PM (#6446877)
      Sorry for replying to my own comment, but I forgot one REALLY cool feature:

      If you plug a phone into the modem itself, then you get IP-phoning without any setup. Calls to Canada for like 2 cents a minute or something, plus the quality hardly changes from a regular international call (actually, it's far superior to many regular calling solutions). It costs more to make a phone call from an hour's drive away in Canada than it does to call half way around the world with this thing, and it just plugs right in, which I find pretty incredible.
  • by jjshoe ( 410772 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:24PM (#6446849) Homepage
    What i am curios about is the bandwidth required to supply. In my town i think that we would have no issues getting permission to use telephone poles or dig trenches as needed to run wire and covering the initial cost. What i wonder about is how do they pay for the bandwidth? are they linked up to the telephone company? are they linked up to something else?
  • by djeaux ( 620938 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:27PM (#6446884) Homepage Journal
    Well, I'm starin' at my VAIO, a-drinkin' Kirin beer.
    My IRC was lagging when it all came clear.
    I hopped into my Honda, it's a little bitty car.
    And I'm drivin' down to meet you at the Sushi Bar.
    But don't tell me I'm crazy until you hear my plan.
    I'm gonna buy two tickets and move to Japan.

    I'm gonna move to Japan,
    I'm gonna move to Japan.

    So if you've got no job and the cable's too slow,
    And it's too far to the switch at the ol' telco,
    Just pack your bags and don't forget your Kimona,
    And you'll be wallowing in bandwidth all the way to Yokohama.

    We're gonna move to Japan,
    We're gonna move to Japan.

    Tokyo's got the neon.
    Put a pot of green tea on.
    Akira Kurosawa,
    Sapporo Okinawa.
    Girls with almond eyes,
    Downloadin' everything twice.
    It's the land of tradition,
    But I'm a man on a mission.

    When we get to Japan we're gonna do our part,
    To use up that bandwidth with all of our heart.

    From the unemployment line I see lots to be done
    And they're handin' out gigabit in the land of the risin' sun.
    And I love my mom and my apple pie,
    But sayonara Uncle Sam, hello Samurai.

    We're gonna move to Japan,
    We're gonna move to Japan,
    We're gonna move to Japan,
    Hey, we're gonna move to Japan,
    The home of the wired man.

    It's rolling.

    (Liberally adapted from The Band's "Move to Japan" -- 1993)

  • by drwho ( 4190 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @05:28PM (#6446892) Homepage Journal
    People want to know why we can't do this in the US. Lots of finger pointing at telco greed (somewhat true) but there is more than just that, which is blocking such a revolution.

    There is a huge difference between the highly connected and not areas in the US, due to the way technology has developed. Lots of fiber was put in the ground over the past ten years, fed by the expansion of telecom and datacom industries. Once the right-of-way has been purchased, the building permits acquired, the trenches dug and conduit layed, is is just a small bit more expensive to put in a lot of fiber than it is a little. So it wasn't uncommon to see 24 fibers where one would carry the traffic. This also provides some redundancy in case of failure.

    You can get a lot of miles with small signal loss on fiber, but every time you splice it, there is a cost in both signal in addition to the economic. So the idea is to lay fiber to carry a lot of traffic to point B from point A, not stopping along the way.

    The metallic plant (copper) is old and available and easier to splice, but has horrible performance. But this is fine if you are only going a couple of miles...most of the time. many times it can't even get that far (I am cursed with a crappy T1). Too expensive to run fiber out for everyone, splicing along the way.

    So there was already all this capacity between places like New York and Boston and Washington DC, but a paucity to places like Burlington Vermont. Then there was all that 'dark fiber' that was kept in reserve, no signal going through it. But what exacerbated the situation was the development of DWDM technology, which made it possible to run much more data through each of these fibers by utilizing signals in bands that are closer together. But this equipment is expensive.

    The end result is that bandwidth rich areas get richer, and the poor aren't helped at all. For an example of how bad this is, some years back the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority sold rights to run fiber down the 'pike, which stretches across the state east and west. This was very profitable in the densly populated eastern half of the state, dominated by Boston and the Rt.128 technology hub. But out in the western the hinterlands, that is across the Connecticut river and deep into area code 413, it wsn't seen as profitable. So the fiber did not run past Westfield, leaving the rest of the state left out and still with pokey, expensive, 1960s age technology. There was a great cry that again the rural population was being screwed, and a consortium was formed, called Berkshire Connect ( to take over the fiber rights and get western mass lit up. Unfortunately they teamed up with Global Crossing and they had many bankruptcy problems which slowed the project. But it is up and running, they've got 50 members they say, but I have no idea what the actual cost of connectivity is. I am sure it is much more expensive than what we pay in Boston.

    I am not sure what can change this situation. Yes, government grants step in and throw some money around, but it will take a real lot to change the basic underlying economics. My guess is that the precipitous drop in the cost of equipment fiber, and real estate rights with the telecom market crash may bring prices into the affordable range, and maybe some local people are hired by the government as part of a public works project to put it all into the ground.

    Then, there's microwave. But its reliability is an order of magnitude less than that of fiber.
  • by shimpei ( 3348 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @07:18PM (#6447943) Homepage
    For a more sobering data, check out the this graph of speed vs. distance to NTT station [] on Yahoo BB's web site. (It's in Japanese, but you should be able to read enough of the graph to get the gist of it.)

    As you can see, you basically need to live next door to your local NTT station in order to get 12Mb/s. Living 2km away (not unlikely, even in allegedly densely packed Tokyo) gives you maybe half that. Even the new 26Mb/s service doesn't give you 12Mb/s at 2km.

  • OK, I work in the telecoms field in Japan, and I know the Yahoo! BB infrastructure well. I asked them directly why they can offer 10x the speed at 1/2 the price, and this is the answer.

    1) Different DSL encoding standard: they use a set of standards called Annex A, Annex C and Annex H to provide fast DSL over copper. (Incidentally, many of the DSL providers in Japan also provide 8 and 12 mbps service - this is a Japan specific point). Yahoo! BB IS a DSL service.

    2) Low-cost all IP network: the back-end network is basically a single gigantic Layer 2 gigabit Ethernet LAN. There is no ATM, SONET, etc. any of that stuff. It all runs as IP over Ethernet. The network architecture is actually quite radical. Fiber links are rented from a variety of sources, at dirt cheap prices.

    3) Regulatory support and low prices for access: the telecoms regulator, in a fit of pique, forced NTT (local telco) to offer access to the copper lines for less than $2 - dramatically lower than in other markets.

    4) Extremely low cost operating model: customer support is only available via e-mail or web. You install your own equipment. (Incidentally, there are frequent complaints about Yahoo! cust serv, so they finally had to open a call center)

    The offering is extremely clever. The DSL modem has an analog phone jack in the back into which you plug your existing phone, fax machine, etc. You continue to receive calls over your analog line, so your phone number does not change. Outgoing calls are checked by the DSL modem and routed over VoIP if that is cheaper. If the DSL modem fails, the analog port simply connnects straight through to the existing analog line.

    There is no technical or geographical reason why the Yahoo! BB model can't be implemented in other places. They are using copper lines from the incumbent for last mile access, and a published standard. The real barrier is probably that in other markets the telcos are trying to squeeze more return out of outdated, expensive networks. They don't want to build out a back-end for 10x the current traffic using their existing high cost network model.
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @07:36PM (#6448093) Homepage Journal
    Want 12Mbits for $21/sec? Move to Poland. (...) .For 12Mbit a month...

    (it's not SO bad. But it's bad.)
  • by LeftOfCentre ( 539344 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @07:49PM (#6448195)
    While this is a very good offer, it doesn't seem that extraordinary. Bredbandsbolaget [] in Sweden [] has offered 10 MBit/s ethernet for a long time with a present price of around $36 per month. That's more expensive than the offer this story mentions, but not all that much. I'm one of their many happy customers. (No, I'm not getting paid to say this.)
  • by greggman ( 102198 ) on Tuesday July 15, 2003 @10:08PM (#6449172) Homepage

    Other companies provide 100 megabit service for slightly more like NTT at around $55 a month.

    A bigger concern, as an American, is that the U.S. is going to go down in flames in the near future because Japan and Korea are both wired to the max. There entire societies are changing because of ubiquitous access to FAST internet. That means Japan and Korea will end up leading the world in innovative net apps and hardware since they are the ones living in a wired world, not the U.S. The U.S. needs to get off it's ass and get us wired!

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI