I decided to set the old FON router up before my trip to Japan this year. The idea is that you share your broadband connection via a wifi hotspot that the FON router provides and in return you can use any FON hotspot worldwide.
Before going I checked coverage. FON has done a deal with Livedoor in Japan so you can use any Livedoor access point for free. The map on the FON website shows lots of APs in the Tokyo area, particularly Akihabara where being able to check product specs online would be particularly handy.
The reality on the ground is very different. If these APs are there then their signals apparently don’t extend as far as street level. So far I have only been able to connect once while in Yokohama, and then the signal was so marginal it kept dropping out. There are lots of strong FLETS and NTT Docomo APs available but the former needs a permanent address in Japan for sign-up and the latter is very expensive.
FON is crap. I noticed that coverage with my own FON router was terrible before I went. It has a very small antenna and apparently low output power, pretty pathetic by today’s standards. Even the cheapest routers have multiple antennas and have the power/sensitivity turned up to 11 by default.
Don’t waste your time becoming a Fonero.