Choosing the right WiFi router for Japan

My father had WiFi problems in his apartment, too many dead spots for a decent FaceTime conversation unless he stayed tethered around the Comcast Xfinity WiFi box. Like most people my father likes to walk around and talk at the same time resulting in broken connections and conversations.

I picked up a Linksys Velop mesh WiFi router set for him while in the USA, turned bridge mode on his Xfinity box and plugged in the Velop router. It could not have worked out better. All the WiFi dead spots were gone, my father can FaceTime wherever he wanders. Velop truly ‘just works’ out of the box.

Linksys has been absent from Japan for some time but seems to be using Velop to dip a toe back into the Japanese market. Velop is a good product but I do not recommend it for WiFi use in Japan: it’s a poor match for the IPv6 protocols used by Japanese internet providers and the NTT backbone.

Goodbye PPPoE (IPv4) Hello IPoE (IPv6)
The problem with Velop is the same one I had with Apple AirPort Extreme (part 1, part 2): no support for DS-Lite and Map-E IPv6 protocols. IPv4 in Japan is like an old studio backlot, a bunch of false fronts with nothing but IPv6 behind them.

Unless EVERYTHING IPv4 is encapsulated inside IPv6, it doesn’t get priority routing at crucial exchange points between local area lines, the internet provider, or the NTT backbone. IPv4 in Japan is ‘tapped out’ and sits in a traffic jam on the local internet highway while IPv6 whizzes by on the IPv6 super highway.

All of the Japanese internet providers offer free ‘v6 Plus’ or ‘IPoE’ service options for connecting your home internet directly with IPv6. I highly recommend adding a free IPv6 option and either renting the WiFi router from the internet provider, or purchasing one. Don’t buy any WiFi router that does not support the IPv6 DS-Lite and Map-E protocols. The major Japanese WiFi home router manufacturers all support those protocols and maintain IPv6/IPoE lists of internet providers and services qualified with their WiFi equipment:

Always make sure your WiFi router is updated with the latest firmware.

If you are not a DIY networking guru, you can save time by renting a pre-configured WiFi router from your Japanese internet service provider. Rental prices vary, So-Net for example charges ¥400 a month. If you are in Japan for the long-term and futzing with internet configurations is not a problem, a good WiFi router investment from the list above can save you money.

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