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Getting Internet in Shanghai
2014-07-16

You can access the internet via ADSL or dial-up service. There are some areas in Shanghai that do not have cable internet access. Do check with the provider of cable modems, the Shanghai Cable Network Company (Tel: 800 820 7700) before taking up a lease. If you are renting a place, you cannot order ADSL for your home by yourself. The owner of the property must make arrangements for this service.

Both ADSL and dial-up internet service are provided by China Telecom. Other internet service providers offer internet access cards that can be easily bought off the streets from IP vendors.

For internet access outside your home, there are Wi-Fi hotspots sprouting all over the city, in cafes, restaurants and the like.

Steps in Setting Up Internet:

Your first step is to go to the China Telecom to sign up for an internet plan. Go there with your passport, address, and local phone number. The address of China Telecom is as follows:

English:  915 Caoxibei Rd, Xuhui District

Mandarin: 上海市徐区漕溪北路915

Phone: 021-62476666

Closest Metro Stops: Xujiahui, Shanghai Indoor Stadium

Choosing an ADSL Internet Plan:

When you get to the China Telecom branch, you will need to select your internet plan. The two plans you can choose from are the 1M and 2M plans.

Currently for home use, there are 3 options for internet over fixed lines:

China Telecom with ADSL over Copper / FTTB+Lan / FTTH

China Unicom

Orient Cable

China Unicom

Let's start with Unicom's packages: http://www.sh.chinaunicom.com/en/

Unicom can provide up to 30M for home use (assuming your area can have Fibre access via FTTB+Lan or FTTH)

If you don't have fibre, and can only get ADSL lines, then your max speeds will be 4M – 6M depending on distance from the local substation.

Shanghai Telecom has committed to rolling out Fibre to all users by 2013 though, so most areas will start to see fibre availability coming soon.

Shanghai Telecom

Shanghai Telecom pricing is obviously being directly targeted by Unicom. Each Unicom price point has been aimed squarely at beating Telecoms. Competition is good, although Unicom could do better. Shanghai Telecom has far better backend infrastructure though, and that's going to take time for Unicom to improve on.

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Shanghai Telecom's package can be found here: http://sh.ct10000.com/pptc/ehome/bundle/e8/gwe8sqb/ (Chinese only)

They do offer 10M internet (again with the caveat of Fibre availability in your area) for the sum of 188RMB a month. If you don't have Fibre, they reduce that price by 10RMB and provide the standard 2M / month (which in comparison with standard ADSL rates is not a good deal).

They sell this as a bundle with Telephone access also, so you get reduced phone rates too.

This includes a few other random things like incoming caller ID and custom ringtones for your callers, as well as 30hrs of monthly wifi access assuming you need to use or can find their wifi when around town.

Orient Cable

Lastly, we have Orient Cable. OCN rates are here: http://www.ocn.net.cn/gsgg_cuxiao07.html

Fibre users:

China Telecom at 188rmb / month with 10M if you can get it value for money wise.

For the speed demons, a better choice might be China Unicom for 30M / month.

ADSL only:

China Unicom for their 4M or 6M options if you can only get ADSL installed in your area.

Unicom may not offer this in your area though, so you may be stuck on the standard 2M for 150/month till they upgrade lines.

China Mobile may start coming to their senses at some point and offer unlimited fixed wireless, but for now their offerings are too expensive for home use.

The Steps of Events Until Your Shanghai-Based Internet is Working:

Pay China Telecom for the plan you have selected

Someone from China Telecom will call you to set up an appointment. This will likely be three days from the time you sign up. You can choose from a three hour block in the morning or in the afternoon.

The China Telecom technical representative will stop by your apartment at the designated time to set up internet and drop off your modem.

You are now set up!

Wireless Internet

Routers are readily available for about RMB 200-300, or even cheaper, for a basic home model. The most popular is the TP-Link brand. You can then call China Telecom (10000) and arrange for them to set up a wireless connection in your home, if you have done so previously. Make sure you have a Chinese speaking friend to help you set up the wireless internet. The instructions are usually all in Chinese characters. Otherwise, you may need to buy a more English-friendly (and more expensive) router.


The 2010 World Expo had accelerated the installation of public Wi-Fi zones and gradually, more places throughout the city are offering free Wi-Fi. It is almost a definite must-have in every cafeacute; in Puxi and Pudong, but it is advisable to check with the cafeacute; staff if the Wi-Fi service is available before buying your coffee.

In addition, the Chinese government has blocked certain sites that are deemed inappropriate, including the popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter as well as YouTube. Major newspapers and email servers can still be accessed.

Internet Cafes

Another alternative for calling home in China is to find an internet cafeacute; where you can make internet phone calls using the Skype [www.skype.com]. A free software program, Skype is free when calling other Skype users (including video calls), but will cost a little bit if you call to mobile or land lines.

Internet cafes usually charge 2-5 Yuan per hour. The charges may vary, based on the computers' configuration.

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Chinese cities are packed full of these internet cafes. But since most of their customers are local network-game-loving teenagers, they often won't have a sign in English. So ask a local where you can find a "wangba"(网吧), which are often open 24 hours/day.

Bring your passport and they are technically supposed to track every customer's ID card.  As a foreigner, they'll need to see your passport number. Backpacker hostels will often have some computers set up and are also cheap (or free for guests).

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