“Unlimited”, “all you can”, “no strings attached”, surely these phrases are a marketers best friend when it comes to advertising a product. Every consumer wants as much for their money as they can possibly get. Companies know this fact, and they use key wording like, “unlimited” and “free” to prey on customers desires. Companies providing Pocket WiFi rental service in Japan are no exception. Many of those companies have jumped on the same buzz-word bandwagon. People love the idea of the “unlimited data”, slogan first coined by large network providers in the United States. But what exactly does “unlimited” in this phrase mean? Does it mean what it implies, that you can use data forever with absolutely no restrictions? Or is there more to golden phrase than meets the eye? That's what this article aims to discuss.
Fair Usage Policy and Throttling
This article discusses topics like Fair Usage Policies and Throttling, that users may not be familiar with. Let's break down each.
Network providers customers share an internet connection. A fair usage policy is a policy put in place that is designed to prevent one user on a network from monopolizing all the internet traffic from the rest of the users, for example, by constantly downloading files. The network will then slow or stop that users internet connection. In other words, fair use limits the data usage of one user over others at times of peak traffic in order to ensure that, for the rest of the group, performance is not affected.
The mechanism by which fair usage policies ensure this data fairness among users is refereed as data throttling (also known as bandwidth throttling or internet bottleneck). Throttling is the process in which an ISP (internet service provider) willfully limits user bandwidth, which slows down download and connection speeds.
Why Does It Matter?
But my plan says "unlimited"? Why would a network throttle my data? Wouldn't that actually make the plan limited! Yes this is correct. The name "unlimited" is just that a meaningless title given by companies to help sell their product. Here is the reality. There is no such thing as unlimited data for mobile internet. All mobile internet providers have a fair use policy in place that will slow your connection once you reach a certain data use limit. So you may be able to use an unlimited amount of data, but you certainly not be at the speed you initially purchased your plan at.
The point of this article is to provide evidence and break down the fact that buzz-words like "unlimited" that Pocket WiFi rental providers love to use. Should be taken with a healthy dose of skepticism. Most of these companies put the information regarding their fair usage policies in very fine print that may be hard to spot with the untrained eye. Let's take a look at some of these company's websites for reference.
The websites usually keep the information under their FAQ or Spec sections.
One of the services this company offers has their policy under their data usage guidelines. As you can see below this policy states pretty explicitly that if the company detects a user using an excessive amount of data they have the right to not only lower but even disconnect your connection speed. With no notification.
This company keeps their information on their policy under their FAQ, Transition Speed Limit section. As you can see below, it states that if the your data usage in a set period exceeds the capacity limit, they will enact their transmission speed limit thereby slowing your connection speed.
NinjaWiFi's is also no exception. It claims the data limit is "Unlimited" However, under the subsection below. It says, due to what they refer to as their "best effort system", that data transmission rates can be subject to slowing or even reach no connectivity entirely.
Flypack's fair usage policy info is written under FAQs, Fair Usage Policy (FUP). This policy states that the carrier reserves the right, without any notice or limitations to slow or terminate internet service to any user, based on what they deem as unfair or excessive usage.
kkday's info is under their Important booking information section. This section just has one line that states their policy on data usage. It says that if you excessively consume data it may result in slower or weaker signal reception.
These are just few of them.
As you can clearly see from the above evidence all providers of Pocket WiFi are using the exact same marketing lingo, all including some use of the word "unlimited". Clearly unlimited is not the case. We encourage you the user, to look more carefully into a companies policy on data usage before making your rental decision and we hope that this article empowered you with the knowledge to be able to understand each company's policies.
At eConnect Japan, we set a specific data allowance for high speed internet, which is more than enough data amount for normal travel use, to guarantee the data amount you can use at high speed. The speed is subject to be capped after that data allowance is used up but you can still use internet without a cut-off. This way, users do not have to worry when the speed is going to be capped. This we feel, provides a level of honesty that our users hopefully appreciate.
Feel free to visit our website and compare multiple Pocket WiFi rental plans we offer!