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?