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Son commits to Wi-Fi spots for foreign visitors

by Kazuaki Nagata

Staff Writer

SoftBank Corp. CEO Masayoshi Son said Friday the company will offer free Wi-Fi to foreign tourists in Japan.

Son was replying to a question from an individual investor during SoftBank’s annual shareholders’ meeting on whether it will provide free wireless Internet access to international visitors, given that foreigner-friendly Wi-Fi is a rarity in Japan.

“Let’s do it,” Son said.

The details of the service remain undecided, a SoftBank spokesman said later.

SoftBank has set up more than 450,000 Wi-Fi hot spots nationwide that people who already subscribe to its mobile phone service can access for free.

Many businesses, such as convenience stores and those operating in subway stations, already provide free Wi-Fi, but it is not really geared toward foreigners. The government is trying to double international visitors in time for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. Earlier this month, Son told Tokyo Gov. Yoichi Masuzoe that SoftBank plans to provide free Wi-Fi to visitors for the games.

  • 3ddie

    On my recent visit to Japan (May 2014), I took advantage of TMobile’s new service that allows for free data and texting, barely needed WIFI and the speeds were great. Big difference from 2013′s visit where I had to rely on WIFI’s, so I saw a lot of Softbank spots, but could only count on the rare cafe that had free WIFI, or visit a JR station. It was hard to meet up with people and much harder to travel since I had to preload maps in my phone. Of course, not speaking Japanese, some WIFI spots had directions or pre sign ups required but not being able to log on in the first place, it made it much harder.
    So, good first step for backpack travelers, but for me I think I will never need to WIFI hunt again.