Life in the Land of the Rising Sun

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hikari Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

The chronicle of my conversion from ADSL to fiber optic cable service continues...

In the Director's Cut of the last episode, I mentioned that Soft Bank / Yahoo sent me the router for my FOC service a full month before I was due to have it installed. They assured me that billing wouldn't start until I used it, so I heaved a (sharp, trembling) sigh of relief and waited for the impending Day of Connection.

About one week before the DoC, my fiber optic TV tuner arrived. I only vaguely remembered having said I was interested in trying out the internet TV service, especially since they said I'd get a two month free trial, but the box that came immediately presented some logistical problems regarding hookup; you see, the router and the TV are in separate rooms, and there's already a long cable stapled to the wall molding leading from the router to the phone. Then of course there was my wife's anticipated fit; she already feels that our satellite TV service is too much considering both our kids are supposed to be studying to prepare for entrance exams (i.e. no lives allowed). The new internet TV tuner box remains unopened and will probably be sent back.

The weather forecast for the DoC was cloudy with partial clearing later. Naturally, it rained. That didn't stop the erstwhile hookup man from doing his job. Bravely shrugging off the cold, the dampness, the inconvenient location of my computer, narrow spaces, aggressive shrubbery, and my FIL's attempts to weasel him into hooking his phone to my connection (i.e. trying to get me to pay for his phone calls like he already suckered my wife into footing his cell phone bill), he got the cable installed, surgically removed my Softbank / Yahoo BB ADSL modem, set up an NTT (i.e. the phone company) router, hooked everything up, and got the phone working. Then, after an obligatory cup of tea and a friendly chat, he got called off to perform his next mission.

(When he took the call, I couldn't help noticing that at least one name of a colleague he mentioned was the same as one of the 'NTT reps' on the phone that tried to fast-talk me into subscribing to "iNächste" internet service. Yes, it wasn't an uncommon name, but still...)(Cue Boba Fett's theme)

Now I was left with some interesting, new problems:
  1. The hookup man had connected and set up an NTT router. That left me with the puzzle of what to do with the one Soft Bank / Yahoo had sent me. Since both incur rental fees, one definitely has to go back.
  2. There are basically two kinds of fiber optic cable service available through "Flet's" (apparently the universal cable service here in Japan, contracted through NTT or local providers). The most common one is called "Flet's Hikari Next", and it's compatible with regular fiber optic phone service. The other one is called "B Flet's", which is faster but not compatible with regular fiber optic phone service (though it does work with NTT's phone system). When I made my reservation with Yahoo BroadBand for fiber optic internet, NTT hadn't yet given me all the details of the service I'd be getting (or if they had, I hadn't understood them). The Yahoo rep told me that they'd call me back later to get that information. They never did. Instead, they just sent me a router and documentation assuming I'd be getting Flet's Hikari Next service. It turned out to be B Flet's. Correcting my account was solved by a "quick" (if you don't count the twenty minutes I spent on hold) call to Yahoo and incurred no extra cost. However, it did add another complication.
  3. Using NTT's router instead of Yahoo's meant that I wouldn't be able to keep using Yahoo's BB phone service. BB phone does offer some advantages, but its main selling point, the fact of being free, no longer applies; apparently NTT imposed a universal service charge on all firms offering internet or fiber optic phone service since they still have to use NTT's facilities (cue Imperial March). It's still cheaper than NTT's phone service, so I hoped to keep my account going. However, if I read the oh-so-confusing fine print correctly, BB phone can't be used on a B Flet's account anyway, so that pretty much settles that. At any rate, I decided to cancel the BB phone option, send back the Yahoo router, and just use the NTT router that was installed. That led to another problem.
  4. Basically, the instructions for the "start-up kit" that came from Yahoo for activating my new service could be summed up like this: "If you use our router, just insert the included CD in your computer, enter the codes, and you're done! If, perchance, you...ahem...use a *cough* NTT router instead, well...huh huh...pray to whatever ugly, alien gods you worship and prepare to be taunted until you gnash your teeth and wail in unspeakable anguish." You see, the NTT router also came with a CD, but it wasn't a set-up utility, just interactive instructions and a summary/checklist. In order to change the settings you had to access a set-up utility on the internet. Therein lies the rub; since Yahoo apparently isn't one of the "accepted" internet services supported by NTT, my router wasn't preset for internet access. When I turned on my computer, it accessed the "home network" just as with my old ADSL modem, but the home network wasn't connected to the internet. I flailed around for I don't know how long, poring over the NTT and Yahoo documents trying to make sense of all the Japanese technical jargon, and finally I tried logging onto my Yahoo account manually. First it told me that access was denied, but after a little while I noticed that I was, in fact on the internet. Then I was able to call up the set-up utility and (after struggling with the user-unfriendly access protocol) put in the codes necessary to make the router connect to my Yahoo FO service automatically as the family default. Now log-in happens on boot-up on any machine connected to the router. Hopefully, that took care of it. (Cue The Force/Obi-Wan's theme)
(While all this was going on, I couldn't help wondering how much easier it would have been had I just allowed myself to be railroaded into dropping Yahoo and subscribing to "iNächste" instead. But then again, I'd have to deal with using "iNächste"...)

Well, for better or worse, now my family is online using gigabit fiber optic service. I just hope it'll be smooth sailing from now on...if you don't count these options I have to cancel and hardware I have to mail back.


  • Seems like enough to make one want to go back to paper and pencil.

    By Blogger Don, at 9:00 AM  

  • The thought did cross my mind. Make no mistake!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 10:50 AM  

  • Moody, when you have a chance, come over to my place and see some American middle school art.

    By Blogger San, at 4:43 AM  

  • San, I'd love to.

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 2:38 PM  

  • Are you okay? The breaking news over here is a huge earthquake and tsunami in Japan. is this near you?

    By Blogger Peceli and Wendy's Blog, at 3:50 PM  

  • Hi

    Saw news about the quake on TV this morning - hope you and yours are all OK.

    Please let us know!


    By Blogger Rock Chef, at 6:21 PM  

  • MM, are you and family okay?

    By Blogger HappySurfer, at 2:31 AM  

  • Kevin-
    Same question from Kami and I. All well?

    By Blogger Rory, at 6:45 AM  

  • Thank you all for your warm concern! It has been a harrying experience, and there's a lot we still have to deal with, but we've been blessed. A lot of other people have fared far worse! I'll keep you posted, and I really appreciate all of you!

    By Blogger The Moody Minstrel, at 1:02 AM  

  • Woah. Man, I'm in the middle of a very similar struggle at the moment. Have just got off the phone with Yahoo and am awaiting my "starter pack". The NTT dude has written out instructions for the manual setup as the CD won't work on my operating system. I'm just hoping that the Yahoo ID they send works. Fingers crossed. I'm at the point of being mega pissed off right now.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:15 PM  

  • I have been with O2 (8meg broadband) for the last 3 months, and they are great. The speed actually is 8meg and had no any problems at all, and the customer service is in Scotland. Idiot proof installation and I was connected within a week. To give an idea how quick the connection is I downloaded an 800meg movie in 20mins.

    By Anonymous cable companies in my area, at 6:30 PM  

  • Wow, quite a struggle. I suggest you use BBapply next time, They arrange Flet's Hikari in English and sign you up with an ISP that (unlike Yahoo! BB) has English support to help you with configuration--at no extra charge. :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:20 PM  

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