According to the Asahi Shimbun today, instant Internet access is in the cards for foreign visitors to Japan with the introduction of new mobile-phone SIM-card vending machines at airports and sightseeing spots.
Purchasers' passports are read by the machine, which then issues a prepaid SIM card, allowing for immediate Internet access via smartphone.
Codeveloped by NTT Communications Corp. and U.S. retail-machine manufacturer ZoomSystems, the machine is the first of its kind that is able to process the identity of purchasers by reading their passports.
When users purchase a SIM card from a conventional machine, they first need to register their user information by using a free Wi-Fi service or other connection method before logging into mobile-phone communication networks.
Offering services in English and Chinese, the first SIM dispenser was installed at Aqua City Odaiba shopping complex in Tokyo’s Minato Ward on March 24. Kansai Airport in Osaka Prefecture will be the first airport to have the vending machine on March 26. More will then follow at other locations.
The SIM cards are priced between around 3,000 yen ($33) and 4,000 yen and allow users to connect to Internet for one to two weeks, using mobile phone communication networks by Japanese carriers.
We hope that we will be able to see more public places available to access the free Wi-Fi in Japan in the near future, too!