Internet installation in Japan

I just moved this past Sunday from a crummy and tiny, but cheap and decently located apartment into a less convenient but far, far bigger and nicer actual house. NaturallyIwanted Internet access ASAP so I placed an order for DSL the following day. Japan is well known for excellent Internet service, particularly for low priced and extremely fast (as in 100mbps) fiberoptic service, but fiber is only available for an apartment if the building has first been wired. Therefore, like the first time I lived in an apartment in Japan (2006-7) DSL was my only option.

Setup of DSL takes almost exactly one month. First you place the order, then a couple of weeks later the modem is delivered by parcel, and then a week or two after that the installation guy comes from NTT to check your line and flip on the service. If, as in most apartments, there is already an NTT phone line, this is really all they do-and yet it still takes an entire month for someone to come and do it-and this is not due to a particular backlog, but because of a set four-week schedule.

Now that I’m in a house I can get fiber, which is way, way faster than DSL, for the same basic price, and includes a deal with 5 months free and some cash back in a few more months. I put in the order on the 20th, 10 days ago, and was given an installation appointment of October 3, or about two weeks from the date of order. Today the installer guys came by to do the outdoors portion of the work.

So, why is it that installation of a fiber optic line to a house can be accomplished two weeks from the date of order, while DSL takes four weeks, despite the fact that the fiber installation is multiple orders of magnitude more expensive and time consuming?

8 thoughts on “Internet installation in Japan”

  1. I suspect it has something to do with NTT owning most of the phone line infrastructure. Even if you use a provider like Yahoo BB, it’s still a NTT line. And I guess NTT has no incentive to be efficient about providing service to DSL providers. Either that, or, the strong tendency in Japan not to disturb the way things have always been done. Ever noticed that most of Japan is still using Office 2003? Japan is a strange paradox in that although the country is known as a high tech powerhouse, a much lower level of computer proficiency is acceptable here than you might be used to seeing in other countries.

  2. The delay is most likely caused by NTT’s lack of desire to provide speedy service to what is essentially their competitors, and I believe they are only providing the service because government regulations force them to. However, in both the DSL and fiber cases I am dealing with a third party ISP who needs NTT to install the physical line. Why is fiber still faster? That is the mystery.

    I don’t find anything odd about Japan using Office 2003. If you go to almost any large organization with an IT department in the US you will likely find that most computers are still using Office 2003, and very likely Windows XP. This is because IT departments are extremely conservative in rolling out software upgrades, and tend only to do so when it actually becomes necessary. They rarely install new software only because of newness.

  3. Of course, there’s also a VERY steep learning curve to transition from Office 2003 to Office 2007, and it’s easy to inadvertently create documents with 07 that 03 can’t read.

    I work in banking, and both our company and all its counterparties are using Office 03. The only time I ever came across an Office 07 document was when one of our US-based lawyers was working on her home computer over Christmas and inadvertently sent out an Office 07 document, which confused the hell out of everyone.

    Anyway, don’t blame conservatism: blame Microsoft for making the new software unnecessarily different and incompatible.

  4. Agree with Joe here – Microsoft botched the transition to ’07. Pretty much every office I go to still runs Office ’03 on XP.

    I ran Win2K at home until last year myself, it’s essentially the same as XP without the annoying extras. And it could run Office ’03.

    Anyway, it seems that NTT has a set way of doing things they really like. I transferred my account from ADSL to fiber a few months ago…that took two weeks and about 10 phone calls.

  5. Back when we ordered fiber, it took one month. Mind you, that was in 2003 or thereabouts, and the technicians had to come with a special truck/crane thingie. We also were the first to order in the area.

    Also, nowadays NTT (and everybody else actually) wants to get rid of ADSL, esp in urban/suburban areas.

    (as of the off-topic of MS – most of my clients (small businesses) are still with XP and unpatched versions of IE 6 + Office-whatever that came with the computer).

  6. You make me laugh with your talk of Office 2003 as the behind-the-times choice made in Japan.

    I still get documents from some clients in Ichitaro formats. *shudder*

  7. The installer is here right now! Hello to 100mbps of symmetric Internet connectivity!

    And Office 2007 actually does feel a lot nicer to use than the previous versions, although as far as I can tell there’s almost no difference between the XP and 2003 versions. As for the learning curve, the new interface certainly has a larger learning curve for users upgrading from a previous version, but I suspect that it would actually be easier for a completely new user, with related actions grouped together in a generally more logical and intuitive way. But, as with a lot of software, I don’t think there’s a compelling reason for most people to get the new version until it comes with their next new PC.

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