Apart from the societal changes I have treated earlier on this website, changes in technology and services are also happening in Japan. In early June 2022, Tobu Railway (a railway company in the Greater Tokyo Area) terminated its free Wi-Fi services. Until then, trains used on the Tobu Skytree Line and Tojo Line provided free Wi-Fi for passengers to connect their smartphones and other devices. Now, only the “TJ Liner” trains with reserved seats keep offering Wi-Fi. The official reason for the discontinuation of the service is attributed to cost factors.
Tokyo Metro has also announced that it will discontinue its Wi-Fi service in its trains at the end of June, evoking the expiration of contracts with service providers. However, free Wi-Fi inside the stations will keep running.
Train users are not the only ones seeing their free Wi-Fi connection disappear. In November 2021, Toei Bus company also stopped providing internet connection in their buses.
The phenomenon is not limited to transportation. Seven & i Holdings Co., Ltd. also stopped providing services in their group’s stores, which means not only ending the10 years-long Wi-Fi service in 7-eleven convenience stores, but also in stores such as Ito Yokado, Denny’s, Loft, and more. The company explained they “reviewed [their] service content due to changes in the Internet environment in Japan.”
Users ponder the deeper reasons behind the discontinuation of such services. One possible reason could be that such services were mostly targeting foreign temporary visitors, whose numbers have become close to zero since the pandemic. As a matter of fact, many free Wi-Fi options were installed in the prevision for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Furthermore, people living in Japan benefit from large data plans and 4G and 5G on their smartphones, so free Wi-Fi spots may now seem redundant. Still, one exception to this is the Wi-Fi services provided in the cafes, where many customers like to work and study.
When and where do you use free Wi-Fi? Will you miss the free spots listed above? Tell us in the comments!