Two in five Japanese ignorant of public wifi networks


Do you know about public wireless LAN hotspots? graph of japanese statisticsConsidering how wired the country is, with the lowest cost/performance ratio for consumers in the world, the lack of availability of public wifi always surprises me; this recent survey from goo Research and reported on by into wireless LANs shows ignorance of their very existance is still quite high.


Between the 17th and 21st of June 2009 1,079 members of the goo Research monitor panel completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 52.9% of the sample were male, 16.1% in their teens, 18.4% in their twenties, 21.4% in their thirties, 16.3% in their forties, 15.8% in their fifties, and 12.0% aged sixty or older.

In Q3 it’s perhaps surprising to my overseas readers that games machines were the most popular device other than laptops that were used to connect to wifi hotspots, but to residents here, especially anyone who has visited a Pokemon Centre (the third most popular tourist attraction in Japan!) and seen the numbers hanging out with their DSes. In addition, McDonalds have recently announced wifi hotspots in their restaurants for DS owners.

Research results

Q1: Do you know about public wireless LAN hotspots? (Sample size=1,079)

Yes 60.8%
No 39.2%

This is up 6 percentage points from when a similar survey was carried out last year.

The next question was for the 502 people from those who knew about public wifi and had a laptop computer.

Q2: Have you used a public wireless LAN from your laptop computer? (Sample size=502)

Yes 22.1%
No 77.3%
Don’t know 0.6%

The next question was for the 656 people who knew about public wifi from Q1.

Q3: Have you used a public wireless LAN from a device other than a laptop computer? (Sample size=656)

Yes 14.8%
No 84.8%
Don’t know 0.5%

Of those who had, the most popular device used was a portable games machine, with 59 people connecting to a public wifi with one. The number of people connecting with a mobile phone or iPod Touch was not reported, however.

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  1. Janne said,
    July 2, 2009 @ 09:24

    Could it be simply because open wifi hotspots are really rare in this country? I usually have my laptop with me but have long since stopped looking for wifi when I travel since I pretty much never find any anyway.

  2. Jordan said,
    July 2, 2009 @ 12:02

    I see them all over Tokyo.

  3. David said,
    July 2, 2009 @ 15:05

    The lack of good WiFi free spots might lead to these numbers. I have an usb e-mobile dongle that I use, but it’s not as fast–and more expensive–than a good free WiFi connection. My room has been so hot and humid, plus this chair I’m sitting on just blows, so I’ve been going to Seattle’s Best Coffee a lot. SBC has good free internet and nice strong coffee–maybe too strong. The one in Sannomiya is nice and small with free power outlets for you to use, also good people watching cause it’s in the APA hotel.

    The bar I work at has free WiFi, we haven’t put it on the Freespot map or even put out a sign about it.

  4. BlogD said,
    July 4, 2009 @ 23:36

    Jordan: I see them all over Tokyo too–but I can never log into one. I don’t know what’s required to get in to them, but they either require a password or they simply don’t work at all when you log in to them. I’ve tried, several times.

    I’d love to know about wireless LANs in Tokyo. Someone please post information about what they are and how to access them. And please don’t just post a name and leave it at that–include details on how it is accessed, and where it is available. I can only presume that you have to at least register for them.

    But to just say “public WiFi networks” without further elaboration is misleading–unless there really are publicly operated WiFi networks that you can access freely just walking down the street without any registration or other special preparation. The expression used suggests that you can walk into the zone of one of them and, without any fuss, just join the network. I haven’t found any yet. But I’d love to know where they are.

    As for coffee shop or restaurant WiFi, that’s not exactly “free,” is it? Not if you have to be a paying customer to use it. Nor is it really a “public” network.

  5. Edokko Mark said,
    May 27, 2011 @ 22:38

    “Free WiFi” is nearly non-existant in the major urban areas of Japan (including Tokyo). And short term visitors shell out ridiculous money for temporary single network wifi access. Some multi-network access services (such as Boingo) charge $59. monthly fore international service. That’s a bit steep when you look at the services providers in Japan who offer great service at dirt-cheap prices. I highly recommend WIRELESS-GATE. (English translated link below). For 780-yen a month, you have no-limit access to NTT hotspot/Flets. Softbank BB. Livedoor, and major train and subway connections (at least in Tokyo). These networks combined must cover 80% + of the public hotspots. I’m very satisfied with the service. Wireless-Gate takes foreign credit cards ….. makes no fuss about your visa status or requires a Japan address. None of that is asked. For Japan that;s TRULY AMAZING, because most times a non-resident is screwed because they lack any kind of official residency papers (other than a tourist visa stamp). Can’t loose. Go for it. If yo don’t read Japanese, I recommend that you have a Japanese-literate person help you with the online application. Cheers.

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