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Cellular phone frequencies used in Japan

So, the first thing you need to know is if your cellphone is compatible in Japan.

First, there’s no 2G GSM cellphone company in Japan. If your phone is a simple talk-only or talk-and-text cheap feature phone, it may not work in Japan even if you’re going to use it on the international roaming plan from your own non-Japanese carrier. You need a 3G compatible phone in Japan.

There’re 3 major cellphone companies in Japan; NTT Docomo, Softbank, and KDDI au. If you’re from the United States of America visiting Japan and your phone is from AT&T or T-Mobile US, your phone will probably work on NTT Docomo (W-CDMA/UMTS 2100MHz or 850/800MHz) or Softbank (W-CDMA/UMTS 2100MHz) signals while roaming there, provided that your phone is compatible with 3G 2100MHz frequency. If you’re from the USA and your phone is from Verizon or Sprint, your phone will work on NTT Docomo (W-CDMA/UMTS 2100MHz or 850/800MHz) or Softbank (W-CDMA/UMTS 2100MHz) or KDDI au (CDMA2000 800MHz only) signals in Japan. If you’re from any other countries and your phone is a 3G W-CDMA/UMTS compatible phone, it will work with NTT Docomo or Softbank signals.

Here’s the list of cellphone frequencies used by 3 cellphone companies and their subsidiaries/group companies in Japan.

Carrier Name 2G GSM 3G W-CDMA/UMTS 4G LTE
NTT Docomo None used Major Cities:2100MHz (Band 1)
Rural Area:800MHz (Band 19 or 6)
Limited Area:1800MHz (Band 9)
2100MHz Band 1
1800MHz(1.7GHz) Band 3
800MHz Band 19
1500MHz Band 21
Softbank None used 2100MHz (Band 1)
900MHz (Band 8)
1500MHz (Band 11)
2100MHz Band 1
1800MHz (1.7GHz) Band 3(*)
900MHz Band 8
TD-LTE 2.5GHz Band 41(*)
E-Access (e-mobile)
(Softbank)
None used 1700MHz (Band 9) 1800MHz (1.7GHz) Band 3
WCP
(Softbank)
None used None used TD-LTE 2.5GHz Band 41
Willcom
(Softbank)
None used 1900MHz PHS None used
KDDI au None used CDMA2000 800MHz
CDMA2000 2100MHz
2100MHz Band 1
1500MHz Band 11
800MHz Band 18
TD-LTE 2.5GHz Band 41(**)
UQ Communications
(KDDI au)
None used None used WiMAX
TD-LTE 2.5GHz Band 41 (WiMAX2+)

(*) E-Access, WCP, Willcom are the subsidiaries of Softbank. They may roam frequencies each other.
(**) UQ Communications Inc. is a KDDI group company. KDDI may offer UQ’s data service to KDDI customers.

In addition, there’re several MVNOs which use NTT Docomo’s signal, such as b-mobile, IIJ, etc. And, there’s one MVNO that uses KDDI au’s signal; K-Opticom’s “mineo” brand. I’ll talk about the MVNOs in Japan on a separate article later.

3 comments to Cellular phone frequencies used in Japan

  • Am aflat aceasta pagina, dupa ce am cautat despre Cellular phone
    frequencies used in Japan BlogFromAmerica (English) pe Google.
    Se pare ca informatia dvs e foarte valoroasa, mai ales ca am mai gasit aici si
    despre ora, ora exacta,
    lucruri interesante si folositoare. Mult succes
    in continuare!

    [Reply]

  • Mathieu

    Good articles. It pointed out which companies would mostly be compatible with our 3G phones, but I’m wondering how about 4G? Are Docomo and Softbank again most likely to work with our phones, more than KDDI au? I often heard KDDI au has a different network and wondered if their phones would work here in Canada. If not, I would take one from Docomo or Softbank.

    [Reply]

    Alex Yoshida Reply:

    Most Japanese Android smartphones are not compatible with the LTE frequencies used in US/Canada. They would not connect to US/Canada’s LTE.
    A few Chinese-made “SIM-free” Android smartphones sold through their web sites or non-carrier cellphone shops (but not by any Japanese 3 major carriers) have LTE frequencies used in US/Canada, especially Band 4. So, it may work here in USA/Canada.
    iPhones and iPads sold in Japan have no problem connecting to LTE in USA/Canada, because Apple’s models have almost same frequency specifications worldwide.
    A KDDI phone will work in USA/Canada (and everywhere in most of the world) connecting to 3G W-CDMA/UMTS because the phone would have to have 3G W-CDMA/UMTS for the ability to roam internationally, even though their native 3G cell technology in Japan is CDMA2000 which is the same 3G technology used by Verizon and Sprint in USA. An Android smartphone sold by KDDI may not work with LTE in USA/CANADA. Of course, an iPhone sold by KDDI will connect to LTE in USA/Canada.

    On the other hand, if you bring the US or Canadian phones to Japan, most smartphones sold recently in North America are compatible with Band 1 2100MHz LTE because it is the most dominant LTE frequencies used in Asia and Europe. So, they can be used in Japan for LTE connection.

    [Reply]

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