Home > Focus on Japan 2003 > NTT Doesn’t Make It Easy

NTT Doesn’t Make It Easy

December 4th, 2003

As part of trying to make my Internet connection better, I am trying to switch to another DSL provider.

My ISP has been AT&T, and they have been very good–they have been my ISP since I was on a dial-up connection back in ’98. Up until now, I have used NTT Flets for the DSL connection, primarily because they were first into my area (I live in a relatively unknown town next to Tama), and I wanted to get away from ISDN as quickly as I could. But that also caused a problem.

NTT has always, or at least is seems, managed to jigger the setting up of systems so as to benefit themselves most, taking advantage of their position of advantage as the primary telephone company. When the new “MYLINE” service was set up, it was billed as a way of making things simpler–but to me, it seemed like it just made things more complex, and if one did not go through the process, NTT would collect you up as their customer by default. I am not certain of that, but that was my impression.

It is certainly my impression as far as DSL services are concerned. I have wanted to change DSL providers for some time, for several reasons. First, Flets does not provide some services as part of their overall package, such as IP Telephony. Also, I currently pay two fees, one to NTT, and one to AT&T; it would be substantially cheaper for me to consolidate those services and pay one company one fee.

So some time ago, almost one year before now, I started asking–and learned a disturbing fact. I could not switch DSL providers without having three weeks or more of interrupted service. The way NTT has set things up, I have to first end my service with them–and only after the service has ended may I apply for the new service (I have chosen KDDi for their English-language services). And it takes around three weeks, possibly a bit more, possibly a bit less, for the new service to be established.

The only logical reason for this gap is to assure that two companies do not provide DSL service at the same time. Even assuming that this is absolutely necessary, three weeks is an absurd length of time to require between services; most people would not wish to be relegated to dial-up service for the interval, and so would stay with NTT, which always has enjoyed the advantage of getting all the early adopters. Which, I presume, is NTT’s intention.

I personally know someone who simply misled the providers, telling the new one that the prior DSL connection had been terminated when it had not been–and that person enjoyed only a day or two of broken service between them. So it is clearly possible, and the three weeks clearly not necessary. I wanted to follow this friend’s example, but KDDi made it clear that they would have to actively check to see that the prior service had ended.

As it happens, I will be going back to the U.S. for almost three weeks this month, so that provides me with just the break I need. Still, I may have trouble getting reconnected when I come back–late on December 30th–with the holidays so close. But the service people at KDDi have been very good, the rep I spoke to spent a couple hours today helping me plan a way to set things up so there was the greatest chance of things running smoothly; he really went out of his way to help, which made me feel even better about going with that company–how a firm treats its clients has always been a big consideration for me in choosing whom to do business with.

So, with luck, I will not be cut off from high-speed service for long.

I should note here that DSL is improving here in Japan yet again: the old system of 1.5 Mbps, 8 Mbps and 12 Mbps that so far outstripped services in the U.S. is already outdated here. KDDi had even stopped giving their 24 Mbps service because now they have something faster. They offer two speeds: 26 Mbps, and 40 Mbps. Rather impressive speeds. I chose the 26 Mbps package for two reasons: first, as I live about 3 km (2 miles) from the telephone switching station, all speeds come out to about the same for me, just a few megabits per second. But more importantly, the 26 Mbps package provides a fixed IP Address (rather than a global one), making it easier for me to improve my chances at achieving easy voice chat with others. Both speeds have a total cost of about $35 per month, including DSL, ISP and modem/router rental.

Still waiting for vDSL so I can get higher speeds, but for the time being, this will do. Just hope it goes smoothly, and NTT doesn’t find a way to muck things up….

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