Some of you might have heard about Softbank phones having poor reception. Well, it’s actually not that bad (very unlike the beginning days of Starhub) though not entirely false because they fall outside the プラチナバンド or platinum band range. So what exactly is “platinum band”?
Platinum band is the network between 700 to 900MHz. This network offers the best network service here in Japan. It is very simply divided into 3 parts: 700MHz, 800MHz, 900MHz.
Taxis occupy the 700MHz network, Docomo and AU occupy the 800MHz network and analog TV occupies the 900MHz network. Yes, TV networks are good because they bypass mountains and buildings without failing signals. So what about Softbank? Softbank currently takes up the 1GHz and above network which falls outside the platinum band range and that is why its reception is comparatively poorer than its rival companies. With the analog TV network switched to digital TV, part of the 900MHz network has been freed up and companies like Softbank and emobile are fighting to take up the 900MHz spot.
As for the 700MHz network, there are plans for taxis to have their own wireless network which would then free up the 700MHz slot and Docomo is eyeing it to expand its network range so as to offer even better reception for their customers.
Honestly, I don’t really hear people complaining much about the reception Softbank offers. Everyone knows it’s poorer than Docomo and AU’s but no one really bothers especially when Docomo is so expensive and Softbank was the sole authorised dealer of iPhones. With the release of iPhone 4s, however, AU has gotten into the game and over a million set of the phone have been sold even before its launch a few days ago. Would people switch to AU then? Maybe. But to some people, iPhone = Softbank, and since the network isn’t really that bad, why switch? Besides, there’s still the possibility of the 900MHz network.