back to article Massive telecom outage in Japan kicks 40 million mobile users offline

Almost 40 million residents of Japan spent the weekend in The Time Before Smartphones after local telco KDDI Corp. experienced its biggest outage to date – affecting both voice calls and data communications. Luckily for the company and its customers, the outage began in the wee hours of Saturday morning – 1:35AM (1635 Friday …

  1. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    No Smartphone Day

    I rather like the idea of a No Smartphone Day.

    Civilisation as we know it would collapse but apart from that people would be obliged to become be obliged more social, more active and have to go into cold turkey over looking Precious.

    1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: No Smartphone Day

      Nice idea, though it would have to be with a gun to collective heads of all social media co's. The odds of getting them to voluntarily miss out on a day's slurping are exactly zero.

      1. Richard Jones 1

        Re: No Smartphone Day

        You, rate the chance that high? What would slug-bait (meta) do without all the cashflow?

    2. ThatOne Silver badge

      Re: No Smartphone Day

      > I rather like the idea of a No Smartphone Day.

      Well, my smartphone is off, and stays off most of the day. Officially it is because it interferes with the sensitive equipment here, but actually it is because there is a perfectly functional (although terribly old-fashioned) landline sitting right here on my desk, and I prefer people to call me on that one, especially if they call the post, not the person. I don't give my private mobile phone number to world and dog (I hate dogs calling me at random times).

      Obviously when I give a landline number to people, they always immediately ask about a mobile number, after which I usually explain to them, ponderously, that landlines are like smartphones, just bigger, with a cable, and that they work just the same, don't worry...

  2. Tron Silver badge

    Japan and the Joy of Fax.

    Kishida, who is still only allowing tourists into Japan in small organised groups with a minder 'because of Covid', is promising to pivot to digital. Digital, as this outage proved, is less reliable than analogue or physical. Tech is very easy to break, accidentally or intentionally. This is another good example of why we should retain the POTS network as an emergency backup. Japan still uses fax machines, but the JP government want to get rid of them. I like Fax machines. The protocol could really have been expanded to more uses.

    I've used payphones in Japan. They don't smell of wee/d like ours do. Don't assume that smartphones will work easily across international boundaries in the future. Never mind the roaming charges. The world is deglobalising and global standards will increasingly be broken as nationalist regimes take back control. Soon, none of your stuff may work when you stray from your tribe's home turf.

    I only use a smartphone when on holiday. I use a feature phone when out and about, but only turn it on when I am making a call. I would never get anything done if I had to keep answering a mobile phone.

    1. Auntie Dix
      Thumb Up

      Re: Japan and the Joy of Fax

      I concur with all of the above.

      When the power is out, POTS works. Even then, incoming and outgoing calls sound crisp and clear.

      America's POTS network, like the U.S. Postal Service, should be viewed as a national asset, not a no-longer-trendy encumbrance. Both have been regulated to be reliable and ensure breadth of service. Unfortunately, in recent decades, both have been undermined by profiteers preying on pols sleeping at the wheel.

      The concept that profiteers abhor: Regulation. For the good of the public, not the greedy.

      The greedy have already shown their colors. Want from a commercial carrier remote letter delivery or cell service? Tough luck, if the business does not see profit in that entire region. (BTW, Bezos knows all about avoiding paying the real costs of "the last mile," especially, in rural areas.)

      As for the fax machine, it is simple and elegant for what it does. Like a good toaster, it is cheap and easy to keep around, performing consistently and without complication (such as software updates and other time-wasting nonsense).

      As a matter of fact, I recently saved time and effort by signing and faxing a required government form, rather than wasting time to boot a PC, power up a scanner, scan to PDF, add a digitized signature, load a browser, start an e-mail session, upload the PDF document, and send the e-mail to some immemorable address longer than ten digits.

      1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Japan and the Joy of Fax

        Too late. POTS is, if not dead, on life support without battery backup.

        Telcos can't make money on POTS and there's no growth path with copper. I was informed a couple years ago, that my copper line would be disconnected if I did not convert to fiber by a specific date. With fiber, they can offer me 300/300 mbit/s internet. With copper, nada, and the maintenence costs are far less for fiber.

        I loved my copper landline, because it "just worked", but only for voice. Now I have fiber internet and a $6/mo Ooma box which gives me landline, though not as reliable as copper, for about the same as my old POTS monthly charge.. Much as I loved my copper POTS line, the tradeoff seems fair.

  3. an.other_tech

    POTS so reliable

    Good old progress, who is waiting to see the UK have a major VOIP and internet outage due to 'equipment failure' ?

    Having fibre to the premises (fttp) makes sense for providers, of course only if the backup solution (mobile phone networks) work in the event of a power failure or network failure.

    There is something to be said for wired connections, not just for backup communications, for internal networking and the simple fact that it's much easier to repair a wire than a fibre optic line (for most users not those who have all the kit )

    Speaking with another specialist recently, who is investing in their own power redundancy and communications backups , it's high time the UK practices for such events.

    Where would we be without constante emails, notifications, takeaway deliveries, online shopping 24/7 and streaming music and videos ?

    Books, candles, battery radios and actually walking round the corner to your friends. Or driving if the roads were clear.

    Support the no smartphone day idea. Sunday would be nice. Now if the shops would all shut too.....;)

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: POTS so reliable

      Resilience and backups are all very well, but how much are you personally willing to pay for them?

      Keep in mind that 90% of the public would rather not bother, so the entire fixed cost will be loaded on to the small group who do actually value such a service.

      1. Richard Cranium

        Re: POTS so reliable

        I'd just like to be given the choice. My landline and all the associated kit to support it is in-place, fully paid for, the ongoing costs are just for maintenance but the plan is to switch me to voip. In recent months I've noticed poor voice quality on some calls, the penny dropped when one such caller (my sister) proudly announced that BT had just "upgraded" their Internet and phone service.

        Rather than encouraging the switch to fully digital, government should be supportive of maintaining pots. I guess the telecoms operators have reassured them that "everything will be OK" and will be hoping their promise will be long forgotten when the wheels do come off as they assuredly will.

        1. Puuru

          Re: POTS so reliable

          Here in New Zealand it's already pretty much all VoIP, be it on cable (HFC) or fibre. A neighbour who has no Internet connection now has a "landline" phone that hooks into the local mobile base station because her copper line has been decommissioned. Power outage? Hard ched - use your mobile.

  4. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Old joke

    "That's why I love VoIP. You don't get people phoning up to complain that the network is down."

  5. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    I haven't seen a payphone in about 20 years.

    I haven't seen a payphone in 20 years. When I was in high school in the 1990s there were still some, and apparently they are still common in Hawaii. In the US they got it in there heads that all the drug dealers were using beepers and payphones and basically discouraged the phone companies from leaving phones in place, rather than encouraging it as a public service. So away they went.

    I found it rather odd, for years you'd see an ex-phone booth where every sign of there being a phone or booth was gone, (including the booth itself sometimes) but they'd still have the pipe or post sticking out the ground (that I suppose the phone line came in on) with like a chain running to the binder that the phone book would have been in. I'm just saying those binders must have been pretty durable.

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