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Working remotely from Japan - looking for fast mobile internet

afrank

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Hi.
Around late May 2017 I'll need to be in Kyoto for three months.
During that time, I'll need to work on a daily basis which will require being remotely connecting to my office computer via internet.
It seems that the place I'll be staying does not have internet. They suggested that I check the option of getting a mobile wi-fi device, or "pocket wi-fi" as I've heard it is called.
I don't speak or read Japanese and have no experience using these devices.
I was hoping someone here might have experience with obtaining adequately fast internet for this type of scenario, and for a limited time.
I need to know if it's possible to get such a pocket wi-fi device that is fast enough for connecting and working from a remote computer, and for only three months. If this turns out to not be an option, my other option would be to rent some shared office space that has wi-fi at their facility.
That being said, I do prefer the mobile device option : )

I don't want to mislead, but I think this might be one of those pocket wi-fi devices:
スペック|Pocket WiFi 506HW|スマートフォン|製品|Y!mobile(ワイモバイル)

Please let me know your thoughts.

Thanks!
 

Glenski

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Around late May 2017 I'll need to be in Kyoto for three months.
During that time, I'll need to work on a daily basis which will require being remotely connecting to my office computer via internet.
Where is your office putting you up for 3 months? I'd suggest looking into a furnished and Internet-supplied apartment with LeoPalace21.
 

Petaris

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If your just going to use VPN + RDP then you don't need a lot of bandwidth but you do need low latency. Japan has pretty fast 4G LTE so that won't likely be an issue. However data plans could be very expensive because of the connection being open most of the time. There may be some prepaid options for bulk data that you could use though.

Could your company send something with you and just have a plan that allows for data use in other countries? That is what my company does though it is pricey for them.

Also, don't forget about phone. I'm guessing you will need at least some phone time unless you are planning on using VOIP. If you will use VOIP it will increase your bandwidth needs by a good bit.
 

afrank

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Hi all,
Thanks for your replies!

I'll describe my situation in further detail, to give you a better picture of what's going on:
My wife has been invited by the Kyoto University of Art and Design, as a visiting scholar, for research. My company allows me to work from a remote location, if I want. But they most likely won't be paying for any technology or service for me. It's up to me to get what I need, if I choose to work remotely.
The accommodations the school has provided for us has limited wifi. They say it's okay for checking mail, but it's not very fast and a bit iffy. When I explained what I need it for, they were hesitant and recommended that I find an alternate solution.
The two options I've found:
1. getting a mobile wifi device
2. renting a desk at an office share facility

The office share option seems nice, but so far all those I found are at least an hour commute from where we'll be staying. Furthermore, I like that the mobile device option will enable us to travel, if for example we want to venture out of Kyoto for a while. Just seems a more flexible option. It will also ensure my wife and I have internet available, regardless if I'm working or not, during our stay.

@Magestic - Thanks! That seems to be a solution I'm looking for. The only thing that concerns me is the warning:
"...for the fair use of telecommunications and high quality of the network, mobile service providers all over the world set a limit on data communication if a user consumes a large amount of data in a short period of time. In such case, the internet may be unable to connect or network speed may considerably slows down. Service charge will still accrue even if the above mentioned network limitation occurs."

@Glenski - please see above. We'll be around campus. From what I understand it's a small furnished room, but as mentioned, internet is limited and flaky.

@Petaris - yes it'll be VPN. I'll be logging into two different computers. For PC I'll just be using the built-in Windows Remote Desktop feature. For connecting to a mac I'll be using a VNC viewer (such as UltraVNC).
If I can get a deal that bundles a local phone as well, I would definitely look into that.

I can't tell from the link Magestic sent (HomeWi-Fi/USB|TelecomSquare Japan what the data rates and/or limitations are. I also would like to verify that their service covers Kyoto and specifically around Kyoto University.

Thanks!
 

Glenski

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The accommodations the school has provided for us has limited wifi.
My earlier recommendation holds. Ask the school now, not your employer, if they will foot the bill for a LeoPalace21 place.

If they say it's too expensive, ask your company to help foot the bill. They seem awfully accommodating otherwise. Or you could pay for it out of your own pocket. If the school wants your wife there that badly, they should feel obligated to do something more than offer a cheap place with poor wifi, especially in this day and age.
 

Majestic

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The wifi reception around Kyoto University will be fine. The wifi reception around most of the country is fine, unless you are websurfing from behind a 3-foot thick concrete bunker wall. There are slight variations depending on which service/carrier, but for your purposes in Kyoto, any wifi router will be fine. I don't know what the limitations are. I suspect they don't want you streaming hi-def movies 24/7, but for websurfing, emailing, you should be fine. Does your work involve manipulation of high-volume data (graphics or videos)? If so, you might need another solution.

If not, I reckon the wifi provided by Kyoto University will be fine for daily use. Your hosts are probably erring on the side of caution, as is typical. Their default position will naturally be "we don't know the details of the wifi, so if you are worried please arrange one by yourself". But frankly, I can't imagine Kyoto University providing you with wifi that is so iffy you would need to arrange a back-up by yourself.

If I were you I would see what the wifi reception is at the University-provided place, and if it sucks you can rent your own router in Kyoto. Telecom Square has a counter at the Osaka airport, but there must be a similar shop/service in downtown Kyoto.
 

nice gaijin

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I was recently there for about a month and I tried the mobile wi-fi from Rental Mobile Wifi Mifi Pocket Wifi in Japan, Portable Wifi Mifi router access point:: Global Advanced Communications

In the past I'd use prepaid data SIM cards for a smartphone, and tether if I needed, but I found that the mobile hotspot was very convenient and made it easy to connect multiple devices without burning my phone battery. This time I had a lot more work on my laptop to do, so I was very happy with it. I believe I just got the "Standard Wifi" model. Also, it was waiting for me at the airport when I arrived, setup was fast and simple, and it came with a prepaid envelope so when I was done with it I just threw it in the envelope and dropped it in a post box at the airport on my way out. All in all, I was very satisfied with my experience.

As a bonus, using the pocket wi-fi with your phone and its GPS, google maps does a very good job of giving directions including planning train rides with transfers.
 

WonkoTheSane

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The online part of my business is essentially Skype, and when I needed to use an AirBnB that had a pocket wifi it only had 7 gigs per month. For me, a day of work can easily burn through that.

For typical usage without high bandwidth needs you're probably fine.

I'd tend to agree with @Glenski that they're being overly cautious. I have yet to run into poor wifi in Japan having stayed in hostels, hotels, AirBnBs, and home stays.
 

afrank

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Thanks again for your replies all.
The speed advertised on those mobile wifi devices seem perfectly fine for my needs. I will try to find out about possible data limitations and costs. I probably won't have to download/upload large files very often. And I do not work with video/audio. Only graphic files, which can get very large at times, it's rare in my case. However, I think that me connecting remotely through VPN might be a data guzzler. If I'm not mistaken, the way it works is that you're constantly downloading screenshots of the remote computer at a very fast pace. Just seems to me that this would use up data somewhat quickly.

I hope the wifi speed ends up being fast enough where we'll be staying, that would be great. But I have to have this secure before I leave. My company has been really good about allowing me to just take off to Japan for for three months. I'm not really in a position where I can email from Japan and say "hey guys, listen the internet here is no good, I'm looking for another arrangement, give me a few days I'll get it figured out", nor can I ask them to subsidize my accommodations. It's just not that type of a situation. They'd probably rather I stay in New York and be done with it : )

@Glensky - I checked out the website. Not sure I understand how it works. Is it for students? My wife isn't a student, but rather she teaches in New York and is visiting Kyoto University for research. Anyways, I sent an email LeoPalace21 and asked them for further info. Thanks!
 

nice gaijin

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VPNs used like proxies are for redirecting your traffic, and barely take any more bandwidth for you than a regular internet connection, but it's slowed down because you're rerouting it through another machine. It sounds like you're talking about screensharing/remote desktop control. Either way they aren't that bandwidth-hungry. If you aren't dealing lots of big files the pocket wifi I linked about should be fine. I'm a designer and used my wifi extensively and never had overage problems.

There's also plenty of wifi around, but i know i probably wouldn't be satisfied relying on that.
 

Glenski

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@Glensky - I checked out the website. Not sure I understand how it works. Is it for students? My wife isn't a student, but rather she teaches in New York and is visiting Kyoto University for research. Anyways, I sent an email LeoPalace21 and asked them for further info. Thanks!
No, it's not just for students. LP will explain whatever details you need.

Heads up. Don't misspell your clients' names like you just did mine.
 

afrank

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@Glenski - LOL sorry : )
I'll do further research. Meanwhile if anyone who has experience VPN-ing over mobile wifi in Japan, would be happy to hear how that experience went.
Thanks
 

Majestic

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If you need internet when you land on the ground, I suggest renting a pocket wifi router at the airport when you land (or reserving one even before you land so you know you'll have one set aside for you). They aren't super expensive, and if you are clever about your expenses it will be tax-deductible.
 

PatrickNZ

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Pocket Wifi is the way to go. GAC (mentioned) or JapanWireless are two providers with 75MPs service. Works out around Y300/day. You might need a Y500/day plan for unlimited - I haven't looked for a while.

Just as a note on "speed", many advanced countries had "fast fibre broadband" much slower than this. Australia was/is working on a 50Mbps system and at me house in NZ my daughter remote commutes occasionally and that is only 15Mbps and is plenty fast enough. My current Japan wifi is 220bps so speed really should not be an issue. (Even when I am on a slow connection video or voip calls are fine.)
 

afrank

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Thanks for all your help!
I'll go with pocket wifi then : )
Between that and the wifi service at where I'll be staying, I'm pretty confident now that I'll be fine.
I appreciate it guys!
 

JimmySeal

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Be careful to check out the specs of the pocket wifi you're looking at (particularly the data limits). Some place a monthly limit on how much you can use (Y!Mobile is 7gb/month, which you could easily burn through in a few days if you're using it 8+ hours a day). Others don't have a strict monthly limit, but limit how much you can use at full speed in a particular period of time (BroadWiMax has no monthly limit, but will knock you down to slow mode if you use more than 3 gb in 3 days. They're increasing that to 10 gb on Feb. 2).

In any case, I agree that it'll be wise to get yourself set up with some pocket wifi since you can use it while you're out & about and if you do discover that the university's connection is insufficient, the pocket wifi will tide you over until you can find an alternate option.
 
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AmerikaJin5

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Where is your office putting you up for 3 months? I'd suggest looking into a furnished and Internet-supplied apartment with LeoPalace21.
I second that. I stayed in a LeoPalace21 apartment, fully furnished. We had high-speed fiber optic available for about 1700 JPY/month. And all services for residents were provided in English.
 

afrank

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@JimmySeal - thanks for the advice! I'll definitely do some research as to the plan specs and limitations before committing.
@AmerikaJin5 - as I mentioned, it's not my office putting me up. It's actually not related to me at all. It's my wife who was invited by Kyoto University. I'm just coming along for the ride : )
And it's not a situation where we can ask to be put up somewhere else. I mean, we can choose to stay anywhere we want, but we would have to pay for it out of our pocket.
 

AmerikaJin5

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@AmerikaJin5 - as I mentioned, it's not my office putting me up. It's actually not related to me at all. It's my wife who was invited by Kyoto University. I'm just coming along for the ride : )
And it's not a situation where we can ask to be put up somewhere else. I mean, we can choose to stay anywhere we want, but we would have to pay for it out of our pocket.
My mistake, my mobile browser did not load all the replies to your post:p
Hope it all works out! And enjoy your time down there!
 
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