To The Editor

Back to Contents of Issue: January 2003

I. NOVEMBER'S KANSAI EYE ARTICLE is memorable for the wrong reasons. Alex Stewart's treatment of two featured foreigners' wives as unnamed appendages was highly offensive. Kyle Barrow's wife has a name -- Yoko -- which could easily have been mentioned. She is an integral part of the X-9 team. Then to Silver Egg, a company whose owners, a husband and wife team, are listed as Tom Foley "and his wife." How insulting is this to these hard-working women?
Dominic Al-Badri
Editor, Kansai Time Out

II. I'm a dedicated reader since the first issue of your magazine -- you folks do a great job; keep up the good work!
Here is the issue: My 56/64k mobile, tele-access via PHS (DoCoMo P-in card), is not meeting my needs, but as the faster access products are being put on the market, there is a significant lack of clarity in what they can do, what they don't do (or don't do very often) and how much they cost.

Here's the background: I am a business consultant in Tokyo. I give my clients 24/7 service and, consequently, my Toshiba Libretto and its ability to connect to the Web is a mainstay of my business.

Case in point: FOMA, DoCoMo's W-CDMA platform, comes with packet transmission at speeds of "up to" 384 kbps, but when you read the fine print it says, "Only for receiving. Sending is at up to 64 kbps. Transmissions are provided on a best-effort basis. Transmission speed is not guaranteed and depends on transmission conditions and network traffic."

My clients regularly send me Powerpoint presentations that run from 200k to 2MB. So for the sake of getting some information out of DoCoMo, I figure I will use, on average, about 10MB per month. The DoCoMo staff at the sales centers don't know how to calculate average-use costs to the over-the-counter customer.

I was told it could possibly cost me about JPY40,000 per month for this amount of data in packets and it was going to be download only. I'd have to switch to the slower rate for returning the presentations to the client. And they informed me that due to the cost, I couldn't meet my other reason for wanting a higher speed connection: the interminable wait for Web pages to download on my screen when I'm searching for data via my mobile connection. Not much of this comes through in any of the advertisements in English.

Next, DDI-Pocket (with Fujitsu's new "Air-H" USB ah-f401u) was another waste of almost an hour. This promises 128kbps. Not quite FOMA's speeds, but the charge isn't by the packet -- it's a flat monthly rate. It is finally revealed after a lot of questions that in order to achieve this 128 kbps, first, I have to be able to connect to four DDI antennas at the same time! Not only that -- I need to be able to maintain the connection and not get bumped off by other users of one of those antennas. OK, so what happens if I don't "capture" four antennas? Simple formula: One antenna equals "up to" 32k transmission speed! For this they want JPY9,800 a month. Almost triple the price and half the speed of what I have already. They don't say that in the adverts!

What's a foreign business professional who lives by his connectability to do? I'll bet there are more than a few of us in the same predicament.
Gordon Jolley
Senior Consultant, EDI

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