Choosing the right WiFi router for Japan

My father was having 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 which often results in broken connections and conversations.

I picked up a Linksys Velop mesh WiFi router set for him while in the USA this summer, 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 are 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 migration protocols used by Japanese internet providers and 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 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 and the backbone.

If a WiFi router does not support DS-Lite and Map-E, don’t bother with it. The major Japanese WiFi router manufacturers all support those protocols and maintain IPv6/IPoE lists of internet providers and IPv6 services qualified with their WiFi equipment:

If you are not a DIY networking guru you can save time by renting pre-configured WiFi routers from Japanese internet service providers. 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 can save you money.