An anonymous reader writes "The experience of getting online in North America and Europe is years behind the internet connectivity options in Japan, the New York Times reports. While here in the US cable and DSL options are still struggling to reach rural areas, eight million Japanese consumers are now enjoying fiber optic speeds at home for comparable prices. The article explores the fiber-to-the-doorstep approach the country's telecoms are taking, with examination of both the ups and downs of such an ambitious project. 'The heavy spending on fiber networks, analysts say, is typical in Japan, where big companies disregard short-term profit and plow billions into projects in the belief that something good will necessarily follow. Matteo Bortesi, a technology consultant at Accenture in Tokyo, compared the fiber efforts to the push for the Shinkansen bullet-train network in the 1960s, when profit was secondary to the need for faster travel. "They want to be the first country to have a full national fiber network, not unlike the Shinkansen years ago, even though the return on investment is unclear."'"