Category Archives: Phone and Mobile

Pre-Paid GPRS Sim Card in China

Problem to solve:

Visiting China for a short period of time, and GPRS is critically important.

Solution

After you arrive in China (don’t need to worry about it. There are soooo many sellers about the SIM card at airport or at hotel), get a Shenzhouxing pre-paid SIM card from China Mobile. With the card, you have immediate access of GPRS (nothing is needed). However, be very cautious that the default plan is very expensive.

Check the GPRS Package from China Mobile, and choose one that is good for you. I would recommend the 20 RMB for 50M traffic plan. Then call 10086 and ask the operator to adopt the plan for you.

Then enjoy your GPRS!

GPRS Package from China Mobile

When Internet is shifting from computer, laptop to mobile, it is critical to find out exactly how China Mobile charges you for GPRS. Here is the guide (sorry for posting it late, since I know many people have asked for this information)

Level 1: No Package

If you have a mobile and you haven’t call China Mobile to subscribe to any GPRS package, you are customer of this package. It is the unified fee:

0.03 RMB per 1K of traffic

This is very expensive, as you may calculate. A typical web page is 10K – 100K. That means the shortest page is equal to 1 minute of phone call.

Don’t be silly to use this package, but the majority of visitors are using this package.

Level 2: 5 RMB for 10 Megabytes of CMWAP Traffic

This is much better, 1/60 of the first level (or 0.0005 RMB per 1K traffic).

Before I continue, I have to explain about the difference between CMWAP, and CMNET.

For more carriers, there are only one GPRS network – all mobiles access the Internet as if it is a terminal computer on Internet – they have their own public IP addresses. This is what CMNET exactly means (CMNET = China Mobile Internet)

For CMWAP, you cannot access the Internet. You can only access a very small part of it – those WAP sites directly connected with China Mobile. For example, you cannot use MSN Messenger on your Windows Mobile, and cannot access your email at home.

Of cause, there are many ways to workaround this limitation.

Level 3: 20 RMB for Unlimited CMWAP

If you understand the limitation of CMWAP, this is the package for you:

20 RMB for Unlimited CMWAP

Level 4: 20 RMB for 50M of CMWAP or CMNET

This is the package I am using.

20 RMB for 50M of CMWAP or CMNET

If you exceed 50M of traffic, you pay 0.01 RMB per Kilobytes

To give you some ideas of how much 50 M is, let me share my data.

In March, I used 19M of traffic (40% of the allowrance). This is the application I used:

Gmail (http://gmail.com)

ActiveSync, I have every email in my Exchange email box (and I typically read on my mobile first)

Web pages (Google Reader Mobile Edition, and My Comment RSS) – daily

Other web application.

So I believe it is good for most people.

Level 5: 100 RMB for 800 M

Level 6: 200 RMB for 2000M

Level 7: 500 RMB for Unlimited CMNET and CMWAP

I don’t have idea about who should use this level.

Summary

In summary, I suggest 20 RMB for 50 M CMNET and CMWAP access is good for most of GPRS users.

Nokia Support Phone Numbers in China

4008-800123

Fax: 4008 800321

Web: www.nokia.com.cn/careline

International customers: +86-10-58692662

It is 24 hour phone call.

BTW, 400 phone numbers are like 800, but it only waive the long distance fee, and the customer still need to pay local fee.

I called today. Their service is good. I immediately forwarded to Tailin about their website to see how Kijiji can improve the customer service. :-) They also dropped a SMS to me to give me the reference ID. Nokia is fully localized in China. Well done.

Business Educational Opportunities in Shanghai

This Sunday, on Smiling Library event, I met Emily, the nice girl from CEIBS. She suggested me to participate the management forum held in CEIBS tonight. It was hosted by professor McFranlan from Harvard Business School. It was hard for me to get used to his Boston accent.

In Shanghai, there are still huge amount lecture opporunities. I started to get interested in some Executive Education programs they have. Xiaofeng suggested me to attend more trainings to learn the

China Mobile Bill Structure

Just got the Oct bill of China Mobile. Actually, I didn’t pay much attention to the details of a China Mobile bill. I believe the first thing (at least first 20 things) a new comer to Shanghai will do is to get a local mobile. Chances are, you get a China Mobile wireless service and will get the same bill as I get after 30 days.

If you have other plans from China Mobile service, like Shen Zhou Xing (the difference), or different subscriber (China Unicom), it will be much different.

The Structure

There are 5 categories in MY bill:

Monthly Fee

Function Fee

Communication Fee

Value Added Fee

Others

There are many smaller items under each of the categories.

Monthly Fee

If you are a Quanqiutong (GoTone) subscriber, which is billed customer like I am, you will see the monthly fee. For Shenzhouxing, you never get bill because you buy pre-paid card before you use the phone (details).

These fees are fixed. Even if you don’t use your mobile (power off for the whole month), you still need to pay for it.

The fee I have is:

Basic Monthly Fee – 50 RMB for everyone.

GPRS Fee – 20 RMB. There are many packages and 20 RMB seems to be the cheapest one.

Call and Save More Plan Fee – 10 RMB. China Mobile did a lot of promotions to secure its customers and offer cheaper price than its rival China Unicom. For example, for this plan (ZH), you pay 10 RMB first and you will save much more than 10 RMB if you call enough minutes…

All these are fixed, so China Mobile has a better way to forecast its revenue.

Function Fees

There are some functions that are not free. For example, the Caller ID charges 10 RMB per month. I always take it as the most basic function that I know who is calling on my mobile and this is the first time I notice this item. I am curious whether I can remove this item to save 10 RMB. :-) That will change the way I use mobile phone when every call is a mysterious call for me.

Communication Fee

This is the part I discussed in this article: How China Mobile Fee are Charged. This part is variable depending on how much you use the mobile phone. It may (and may not) includes the following items:

Local Calling Fee

Domestic Long Distance Fee

Domestic Roaming Fee

IP Phone Domestic Fee

SMS Fee

GPRS Communication Fee

MMS Fee

IVR Fee

Nothing new here, expect the IVR Fee. IVR (Interactive Voice Response), the technical term has a new meaning here. It means that by calling special phone number, you get voice services like music, or information and China Mobile charges you here.

Value Added Fee

This is where most China Internet companies monetize their huge traffic. Every item represent a SP (Service Provider) company for China Mobile. They can charge huge here. For example, one service can easily charge you 25 RMB per month and every month, you pay the 25 RMB with your mobile bill.

Other

This is just some misc items like they didn’t charge you the change (several cents) last month and you pay it this month – to keep the number you pay always an integer number.

Calling Card in Shanghai

Making phone calls using the fixed-line telephone for local calls is cheap (0.12 RMB per minute?) but it is expensive for international phone calls. Here is the standard price:

Normal time

International phone call: 0.48 RMB / 6 seconds

Domestic long distance call: 0.07 RMB / 6 seconds

Between 0:00 – 7:00

International phone call: 0.48 RMB / 6 seconds (for 15 countries, including U.S, Japan, Australia, France…)

Domestic long distance call: 0.04 RMB / 6 seconds

Source: Shanghai Telecom

Calling Card

I am not sure how the foreign carrier’s’ calling cards work in China, such as AT&T, MCI cards. In China, there are many IP cards that can save money. For example, Unicom 17910 IP Card (0.30 RMB/minute DDD or 2.40 RMB/minute IDD to U.S. and Canada (3.60 RMB/minute IDD to other countires), Unicom 193, China Mobile 17950 IP Cards… The best thing with these cards is, if you buy it online, you can easily get 50 RMB of value with less than 20 RMB. The website I use everyday is cnard.com. I can use my credit card to pay there and they send me the card number and the password. I can directly use the card at the fixed-line telephone in my home. No card deliver required. It is really cool.

Buy the Card?

Besides the online store, telephone card dealers can be found at Pudong or Hong Qiao Airport. You can find it at the Arrival Hall (Pudong, Hongqiao).

Alternative

Skype is a much better alternative to fixed-line. It offers around 0.20 RMB/minute to telephone everywhere around the world. It is even cheaper than the mobile phone in China (0.40 RMB/minute). Just use the SkypeOut feature.

How China Mobile Fee are Charged

Notice: This article only applies to China Mobile users. I didn’t research about Unicom charging model, but it should be very similar.

Yes. I Agree it is Complicated

To be honest, I don’t know how the mobile fee is charged till now. As one reader commented (I cannot find the post about three days ago), it is too difficult to calculate how much it costs since it is not a flat rate. You have to put where you are, where your base city are, whether you are calling or receiving call into consideration. If you put the different discount plan into the calculation, it is almost impossible for you to clearly know how much you are paying. Even people in China Mobile may not understand the whole thing. Maybe all those people who are clearly aware of how it works are not the target customer of either China Mobile or China Unicom: they are so called low-end customers. If someone spend more than 800 RMB on mobile every month, will he/she bother to spend time to understand it? :-D

Anyway, I finally got some idea with the help of this page (Chinese page). Let me try to explain it.

Component of Calling Fee

There are two rules to remember:

  1. Someone has to pay the long distance fee (not neccessarily the caller)
  2. They charge according to the REAL route a call goes

So there are three types of fees: Local call, Long distance call (familiar with these terms? They are how fee is charged by fixed-line telephone), AND roaming fee.

I don’t know why the roaming fee is charged. I guess it is for the usage of the infrustructure of the other city, other than the home city.

When the Mobile is not Roaming

The simplest senario is, the mobile is at its home city (you can tell the home city of a mobile from its phone number), when it calls other mobile, or fixed line telephone, the caller has to pay either local call fee only or local call + long distance call, depending on where the destination is. I tend to guess that local call fee is the fee you pay for the wireless connection between your mobile to the basestation and long distance fee is paying for the fixed-line between your base station to the destination.

If you receive calls, no matter who calls, even from other countries, you only have to pay the local call fee – the segment from the base station and your mobile.

It is under hot discussion about whether this two-way charging mobile is reasonable. The discussion has been undergoing for more than three years, I remember. However, up to now, they are still charging both caller and receiver.

If the Mobile is Roaming

It became very complicated.

If you are placing local (the place you are visiting) calls (no matter it is local fixed-line telephone, or local mobile), you pay the roaming fee. No long distance fee is involved, since your mobile directly connects to the local mobile base station and goes to the destination. As I guessed, the roaming fee is the usage fee to use a different base station infrustructure.

If you are placing non-local calls, you are paying for roaming fee + long distance fee (from the visiting city to the desination).

For example, my mobile’s home city is Shanghai. If I travel to Beijing and I call local calls, I only pay roaming fee. If I call a number in Chengdu, I pay for roaming fee + the long distance fee from Bejiing to Chengdu.

If you receive calls in your visiting city, depends on who calls, the fee varies greatly.

If local (the visiting city) mobile or telephone is calling you, you pay the roaming fee.

If non-local mobile or telephoen is calling you, according to how the signal goes, the call will first by transfered to your home city (Shanghai for me), and they transfered to you at your roaming city. You have to pay both roaming fee and the long distance fee for this call.

Excercise Time

Let’s do some excercise (to help me understand it too). Here are some background information for thsi excercise: Jian Shuo Wang owns a mobile with home city Shanghai. Eric owns a mobile with home city in Beijing.

  • I am in Shanghai, Eric is in Beijing and I call Eric:
      I pay for local fee + long distance fee. Eric pays for local fee.
  • I travel to Beijing and I call Eric:
      I pay the roaming fee and he pays the local fee.
  • I travel to Beijing and Eric uses his China Mobile (the company) mobile phone to call me.
      By theory, Eric should be paying long distance fee to Shanghai and I pay the roaming fee + long distance fee from Shanghai to Beijing, but China Mobile is running a program to waive the long distance fee for both party. So Eric pays only pays the local fee and I pay the roaming fee.
  • Eric travels to Guangzhou and I travel to Beijing. Eric calls me.
      Eric is paying for roaming fee + long distance fee from Guangzhou to Shanghai. I pay for roaming fee + long distance fee from Shanghai to Beijing.
  • I travel to Beijing and Eric travel to Shanghai. I call Eric.
      I pays for roaming fee and Eric pays the roaming fee.

Ha. What a complicated homework to do. The last but the most important question is, how much is the local fee, roaming fee and the long distance fee? Well. It is another complicated calculation depends on which package you are using. This article may help: Difference Between Quanqiutong and Shenzhouxing.

P.S. Please help to correct me if there is any error in this article. I am trying to understand how it works but this is by no means the official answer. The number on your bill is the most official one.

Receiver Pay SMS?

During my recent talk with George, I was surprised to know, for the first time, that most other countries use the receiver pay SMS business model. China is among the few countries in the world where only sender is charged.

IMHO, it is more reasonable for the sender to pay the fee. Otherwise, I may think twice before I send a piece of SMS to others: Is my message important enough for the money my friend has to pay?

Mobile Roaming

Rob asked

I am a foreigner with a China Unicom mobile I bought in Rizhao a city in Shandong, I have now moved to Tai’an. I know that it is a little expensive to call the mobile from Tai’an. If someone in Rizhao calls my mobile and I am in Tai’an is it expensive for them to call me or do I pay the extra ?

Yes. I believe the charging model in China is very diiferent than other countries regarding the roaming use. China News has a great aritle to explain it.

Pre-paid? Billed? Roaming? An Explaination of Mobile Charging Model

From the table II in this article, you can see, for example, if you have a Unicom mobile, you pay 0.36 RMB/minutes to call someone or receive a phone call in Rizha. If you are outside of Rizhao, you pay 0.6 RMB/minutes to call and 0.07 RMB/6 seconds to receive calls. It is more expensive.

Bring Your Mobile and Internet to Shanghai

Alf sent me a wonderful email containing questions that first time travelers to Shanghai will definitely face. It gave me good idea about what I need to write to help them.

How to Access Internet?

Can I buy an Internet card to connect to the internet from my hotel room using my laptop? What different cards are there? Where can you buy them? What is the policy of the hotels? etc.

There are some kinds of Internet cards on the market that allow you to dial a number to gain Internet access. As a traveler, however, you don’t need to bother buy a card. You can dial up to the Shanghai Telecom directly for Internet access via any phone line.

  • The access number is 16300
  • Username: 16300
  • Password: 16300

It charges 0.05 RMB per minute for the Internet access fee and 0.02 RMB per minute for the phone line fee. The fee will be included in the telephone bill to the telephone owner.

Based on my experience, I can access Internet via 16300 in hotels. But don’t forget to input 9,16300 in the phone number field in your dial up connection. 9 is for external line and the comma is for pause. Adjust it according to your hotel setting.

The hotel may charge you higher than the standard charge from Shanghai Telecom.

Can I Use My Mobile?

The mobile you have in Europe or U.S. may not work in China. China is using GSM 900 Mhz while it is GSM 1800 MHz in Europe and 1900 MHz in U.S. You need a mobile that support 900 Mhz to access the local network. Pre-paid card is available: Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective and Difference Between Quanqiutong and Shenzhouxing. You can buy these cards at the International Arrival Hall in Pudong Airport.

Transportation

“Which bus should I take to go from Pudong Airport to ….?” Not surprisingly, this is the top question I received. I hope the following articles will be useful:

You may be also interested in alternatives besides bus.

In particular, if you want to go to Pujiang Youth Hostel, one of two Youth Hotstel in Shanghai. You can take Pudong Airport Bus #2 (19 RMB) to People’s Square and take taxi there (10 – 15 RMB).

Dopod 515 – SmartPhone in China

I used 1300 RMB to exchanged a SmartPhone Dopod 515. It is maybe the first SmartPhone on the market. The listed price seemed to be 4000+ RMB. This is the promption from Shanghai Mobile that people can exchange a mobile with the credit points and promise to consume certain level of communication fee in the next one year or two.

I didn’t spend time to research on the phone yet, but the camera feature of the phone is really good. To be continued on this topic.

Difference Between Quanqiutong and Shenzhouxing

John asked what is the difference between Quanqiutong and Shenzhouxing SIM card after my blog entry Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective. I believe it is a good topic to initiate a new article on this topic.

Quanqiutong and Shenzhouxing in Chinese

For people who don’t speak Chinese, these two words are so strange that are even hardly to read. Before I dive into the technical difference part, let me explain the terms.

Quanqiutong is actually three characters (words) in Chinese:

Quan Qiu Tong

Let me try to explain the meaning although it is always not easy to directly translate Chinese.

Quan means all, entire

Qiu means globe, the earth

Tong means connected,pass

So combined together, it means “You can get connected throughout the whole world”.

For Shenzhouxing, which can also be spelled as “Shen Zhou Xing

Shen means magic,grand

Zhou means state,country

Xing means travel

Shen Zhou means China in Chinese language

So Shenzhouxing can be translated “Travel across China”

Difference between Quanqiutong and Shenzhouxing

These two SIM cards are all issued by China Mobile Communication Corp. (CMCC). Quanqiutong is subscription based card and Shenzhouxing is prepaid card.

I didn’t noticed it yet before I wrote this article – the names themselves described the difference between the two SIM card.

For Quanqiutong (You can get connected throughout the whole world), it can be used in more than 50 counties with the roaming services. It has more functions than Shenzhouxing, like WAP, SMS Broadcast, IP Phone, Voice message, Data communication, Fax, Call transfer…. It provide the basic functions as most mobile providers. This is the majority of all CMCC users.

For Shenzhouxing, however, it can only be used in China as name implies: “Travel across China”

Difference in payment methods

The key difference does not lie in coverage. Quanqiutong takes the billing approach like fixed telephone – call first and pay at the end the month. So the application is relatively complicated since you need to provide your national ID card (or passport) and fill in the application form in the service centers of CMCC.

For Shenzhouxing, it takes the pay first then call approach. You can control your mobile fee by only deposit certain amount of money. Since it is prepaid card, anyone can buy any card freely from any dealer. There is no monthly subscription fee. What you need to do is to buy “value card” from time to time and enter the card ID and the password with the card via the service number 13800138000.

Prepaid or not prepaid, it is a question

Prepaid card charges 0.6 RMB per minute for local calls at the time when this article is written. Quanqiutong charges 0.4 RMB per minute + 50 RMB monthly subscription fee. By simple calculation, you know that if dial local calls for 250 minutes in one month, the both cards charge you the same amount of money – 150 RMB. If you spend more than 250 minutes, Quanqiutong is more economic for you, otherwise, you’d better choose Shenzhouxing.

Let me know if you have more questions. BTW, I am using Quanqiutong SIM card.

Update March 26, 2003

Jim reminded me that besides the two card mentioned before, China Mobile also provide two more prepaid cards: GoTone E-Tone Card and GoTone E-Da Card.

Logo of GoTone (Quanqiutong in Chinese)

It is the standard contract based (subscribe based) service, as refered in Quanqiutong in this article.

Logo of Shenzhouxing

This is the Shenzhouxing card. 0.15 RMB per SMS sent to CMCC mobiles or 0.20 RMB if sent to China Unicom mobiles.

Logo of GoTone E-Tone card

Prepaid card. 0.10 RMB per SMS for CMCC mobiles and 0.15 RMB if the message is sent to Unicom mobile from CMCC mobile. It is a local card only available in Shanghai – the card can be used outside Shanghai, but the recharge card and the SIM card is only available in Shanghai market.

Logo of GoTone E-Da card

Enjoys the same charge standard as Quanqiutong (GoTone) – I have never seen it.

Quit confusing, isn’t it?

Micropayment with Mobile SMS in China

Related entries: Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective

I read about discussion on webmasterworld.com. Let’s try to describe the society I am in. I live in Shanghai, China.

SMS is hot; SMS is part of people’s life in China

I couldn’t image there is anything that affected people’s life more than Internet two years ago. Now I realized SMS is competing with Internet to change people’s life.

In China, there is only 48.29 million Internet users by end of Nov, 2002 (don’t get me wrong, this number is huge already), but there are 200.3 million mobile users.

I have a friend who spend about 100 RMB every month for SMS. It is only 0.1 RMB per SMS, which means 1000 SMS every month. Young generation (16-20 years old) use SMS more frequently. As I described in this article, Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective, some people just buy a mobile phone and a pre-paid card. They only use the SMS functions as a good way to save money. They don’t use the mobile phone to call.

SMS + TV? SMS + Radio? SMS + newspaper? SMS + ….

SMS is no longer a method for peer-to-peer communication. Some TV programs uses SMS as a feedback channel from the audience. They will put a survey on TV and they can get instant feedbacks. For example, in some competitions, SMS sent by audience will be a factor to choose the final winner. It is the same for the combination of SMS + Radio or newspaper.

SMS applications

More and more companies in Shanghai are using SMS as the information platform. There is a company called Guangxi (or Relation in English). You can send a SMS message to their service number 885074 containing any place name, and they will return the result to you via SMS. It is very handy.

CMCC (China Mobile) allows you to send JFCX to 1861 to query your credit in CMCC. Even the government is using SMS as a quick way to validate the invoice. This way, people cannot make fake invoices.

SMS + Internet

The reason why SMS can generate revenue is, the provider can charge more than the standard 0.1 RMB/message. In http://sms.sina.com.cn, for example, people can download rings, pictures. Sina.com will charge 1.0 RMB/message for most of the download. The fee will appear in the monthly bill of mobile fee of the users. Then communication companies like CMCC will share the revenue with Sina.

For companies like 5460.net, a classmate finder service, information is no longer free. If you want to find a long lost classmate, you can enter his/her name, and the site will list very limited information about the person you are looking for. If you want to get more like his email, mobilephone, …, you need to enter your mobile phone number. The site will send it to you. The trick is, if the site display is on the web site, it is free. But if they send it to you, they can charge you 1 RMB. That is the different. Although it is very small amount of expense for you, the thousands of subscribers do add up to big money.

Mobiles in China – My Personal Perspective

Huge Mobile Subscribers Amount

According to the latest report from the Ministry of Information Industry on Dec 17, 2002, by the end of Nov 2002, the number of mobile subscribers has reached 200.3 million.

Mobile phone subscriber # 200.31 million

Fixed-line telephone subscriber # 212.68 million

Telephone total subscribers # 412.99 million

Internet users # 48.29 million

# of telephone subscribers by the end of Nov 2003, according to Ministry of Information Industry, China

From the begining of 2002, there are about 5 million new mobile subscribers. With this trend going on, the number of mobile subscribers will exceed the one of fixed-line telephone very soon. The number of 200 million subscribers means every 100 persons in China have 14.95 mobiles. This number in big cities like in Shanghai and Beijing is much higher.

My personal perspective

From my personal perspective, there is vivid persons and lives behind these abstract numbers. I bought my mobile five years ago when I was still a student. My girlfriend bought hers 6 years ago. I don’t have any friend who don’t have a mobile in Shanghail now – my estimation is, any well-educated young people in Shanghai have a mobile.

What surprises me a lot is, even the workers decarating my house have their mobiles – the painters, the decorators, the mason, the electricity, and the carpenter. They dressed poorly – they don’t bath for weeks, but they have mobiles. It is amazing!

I do have one friend in Shanghai who only have a pager – a 70-year-old famous professor. Beside him, I don’t know anyone without a mobile phone.

Mayor of WebmasterWorld described his vision for China when he was here in 70’s.

Having spent some time in PRC in the late ’70’s, my vision of the Peoples Republic is still one where there is little electric power or communication infrastructure, except to a limited amount in major cities. It’s still a vision of technology mired in the 1940’s.

It is quite true that in late 70’s, there is almost on communication infrustructure. But now, it has changed greatly.

Impression of my friends in US

Some friends of mine came to Shanghai from Seattle. They are talking about the mobile and communication infrustcture in China excitedly – “Can you imagine it? My mobile phone still gets signals in the mountains that are hours’ car ride from Chengdu!!” I happent o have the pictures of the mountains he described.

When I was travelling in Seattle, I found it insteresting that a lot of people don’t have mobiles. People explained this to me: in the north Americian, the telephone infrusturct has been built very well and you can easily find a telephone anywhere. But in China, to find a telephone on the street is not as easy. So there is a huge demand to get a mobile.

Fee of China Mobile

Here is the fee of China Mobile Communication Corp. (a.k.a CMCC)

Monthly subscription fee: 50 RMB/month

Local call: 0.4 RMB/min

Long distance call: 0.4 RMB/min + 0.07 RMB/6 seconds = 1.1 RMB/min

Answer phone: 0.4 RMB/min

Good way to save money:

Dial 17951 + Long distance number: 0.7 RMB/min

(note: 1 USD = 8.3 RMB)

For me, I use my mobile frequently. For local calls and long distance calls. I get a bill of around 300 RMB every month.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones in China is cheap. For some old-fasioned mobiles, it only costs about 300+ RMB (40 USD?) to get a mobile. It is different than in U.S. Mobile phone and the SIM card are sold seperately. You can buy any mobile you like and choose the NSP (network service provider). Any two can macth. There is a discount to buy a mobile with a SIM card though.

Big mobile phone companies are fighting for bigger market share aggressively. It is clear that Nokia is taking the leading position and Motorola follows. My new mobile is Alcatel OT715.

Network Service Providers

There are three large NSPs in China

  • China Mobile – the largest. I am using China Mobile.
  • China Telecome
  • China Unicom – this is the provider of my girl-friend’s

Actually, I don’t see much difference between the service they provide.

Besides the subscription fee based model, they also have other options, like Prepaid Card.

Pre-paid Card

All the providers offer their pre-paid card. Users of these card don’t have to pay for the monthly subscription fee, don’t have to pay the bill. They just buy a card (with a SIM card and certain amount of fee). There is a mobile phone related to this SIM card. Insert the SIM card into any mobile and you gain instant access to the mobile network.

Before the prepaid amount of money is used out, you can buy “value card”, which is about 50, 100, 200 RMB. Unveil the card number and password, call the provider’s number, key in the card number and password, you gain additional communication time. It is easy. The charge of this card per minute is a little bit higher than the monthly subscription model.

I have a lot of phone calls so I choosed the subscription based. My girl friend don’t use her mobile as frequently, so she bought the prepaid card.

Pre-paid card in action

Here is an example of the Shenzhouxing pre-paid card from China Mobile (CMCC).

shanghai-shenzhouxing-card.jpg

Shenzhouxing card. You can see the SIM card on the left.

Local: 0.6 RMB/min

Domestic long distance: 0.6 RMB/min + 0.07 RMB/6sec

Answer call: 0.6 RMB/min

You can compare the rate with subscription-based rate listed before. Please note: both calling out and answering call are charged, at the same rate.

Signal coverage

Here is the China Mobile Communication Corp. (CMCC) report on signal coverage from ChinaByte on March 10, 2003

In the 36 major cities, avg. coverage = 99.86%

Country-wide highway coverage = 96%

In big cities like Shanghai, the coverage is a big challenge. There are two many tall buildings that weakens the signal. Now, most places are covered, such as in metro tunnel, in most elevators.

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