SIM Cards for Visitors to JapanIncreasing Sales Even in Kyoto2 December 2014 - Business/Company
The number of facilities which sell a prepaid "SIM card," or a plastic card inside a smartphone or a tablet terminal for domestic data communication, for foreign tourists, is increasing in the Kansai region. Even in Kyoto, hotels and information centers for transportation started selling SIM cards from this summer. The Ministry of Internal Affairs expects the demand to increase further and is encouraging the spread of SIM cards.
When a prepaid SIM card is purchased in advance for a limited period and capacity, people can use smartphones or other communication devices they bring from abroad. Prepaid SIM cards have the advantage of enabling data transmission even in areas where "Wi-Fi," or public wireless LAN service, is unavailable.
Hotel New Hankyu Kyoto, in Shimogyo Ward, Kyoto, has sold four-thousand-yen SIM cards from the end of September as a pilot workaround for the rapidly increasing numbers of foreign guests. Although sales are still low, the hotel's business department said, "The number of people who buy SIM cards is expected to increase in order to search maps or traffic access information via smartphones."
Kyoto Municipal Transportation Bureau has been also selling both three-thousand-yen and five-thousand-yen SIM cards at two information centers in front of Kyoto Station in Shimogyo Ward since around the end of August. Approximately 30 SIM cards are bought by Western and Chinese visitors every month.
Kyoto Traffic Bureau Cooperation Society which manages the information centers said, "Foreign visitors often ask us if SIM cards are available. We hope that people will use them along with the tablets that we lend out."
New Kansai International Airport Company, Ltd. installed SIM card vending machines at the arrival lobby for international flights of the Kansai International Airport in April.
According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, SIM cards ranked third as a means of communication which foreigners visiting Japan want to use, following "Global Roaming," or using a mobile phone without doing anything, and Wi-Fi.
The Telecommunications Bureau of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications aims to expand sales outlets, stating, "We want to provide the infrastructure in preparation for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, through which foreign visitors can use various means of communication."(translated by Galileo, Inc.)