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Commuters pack into a train car at Shibuya Station in Tokyo,  Nov. 28, 2014. Complimentary Wi-Fi on the city's Asakusa subway line becomes available for all passengers starting Feb. 5, 2016. The line will be the first of the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation's subways to offer the free Internet. The bureau expects the service to expand to all lines by March 2020.

Commuters pack into a train car at Shibuya Station in Tokyo, Nov. 28, 2014. Complimentary Wi-Fi on the city's Asakusa subway line becomes available for all passengers starting Feb. 5, 2016. The line will be the first of the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation's subways to offer the free Internet. The bureau expects the service to expand to all lines by March 2020. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan — Some subway riders in Tokyo will soon be able to access the Internet without using an expensive data plan.

Starting Feb. 5, the Asakusa line will become the first of the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Transportation’s subways to offer complimentary Wi-Fi. The bureau expects the service to expand to all lines by March 2020 — just in time for the Summer Olympics.

To access the free service, users will have to log in and register using one of two apps: Travel Japan Wi-Fi and Toei Subway Free Wi-Fi.

The shortage of Wi-Fi hotspots is among technologically advanced Japan’s most surprising inconveniences. A recent survey by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications reported that limited Wi-Fi access, especially at airports, hotels and railways, was more frustrating for tourists than the language barrier.

However, free and open Wi-Fi is starting to become more common. Convenience stores and coffee shops remain the most typical spots to find it, though many train platforms and domestic airports have recently added free Internet service.

news@stripes.com


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