China Mobile – the definitive guide
Here’s some really useful information I wish I knew from the start. Most of it was rather painfully obtained, through trial and error (lots of errors).
- Firstly, the English support is really good. Ring 12580 [NB: I was told today that the correct line for changing plan details is 10086]. The automatic menu may not be, but the people are. Use it! It’s far better than getting a chinese speaker to ask the questions for you, and then translating for you – unless they are *really* good at english. Telecommunications lingo isn’t exactly the first thing they teach in english class.
Plans and Expiry
- When you walk into a shop and get a SIM card, you are put on a prepaid plan.
- You may be told “your number will not expire so long as there is money on the account”
- This is true. Sort of. What I didn’t know is that China Mobile will deduct money from your account every month as a monthly-fee. So if you want to keep your number alive for when you return – make sure there’s enough yuan in the account to pay the monthly fees until you return.
- Also, there are expiry dates – I think it’s half a year for a 100 yuan card, up to a maximum of a year or something.
- I think it would be possible to recharge from abroad (if you already have a prepaid card), and you could certainly ask a local to do it for you. There are some websites offering this service, but they all seem a tad dodge.
- If your credit is exhausted, I believe you get 90 days to recharge before the number is recycled.
- Data rates China Mobile without a plan is 0.01 yuan per KB. 0.01 yuan is almost nothing. But so is 1 KB. That’s actually 10 yuan per MB – which is expensive.
- You can subscribe to a data plan. 20 yuan gives you 150MB, 50 yuan gives you 500MB.
- The data plans are activated on the first day of the month – so if you want a plan you must ring BEFORE the first of the month to set it up, then wait (so potentially you could do this before arriving in china)
- Actually, the plan is activated on the second day of the month. Yeah it’s bizarre – everyone told me the first of the month. But the money is deducted at midnight in the morning of the 2nd, and that’s when your data plan is active – don’t use it on the 1st or you will still be paying 10yuan per MB. Go figure.
- To setup data access on an iPhone, go into Settings -> Network -> Cellular Data. Set the APN to
cmnet. Leave the username and password blank. Your iPhone must be unlocked to see this option.
- If you want data on your iPhone – don’t go with China Unicom. I could not get them to work with my SIM. Go with China Mobile instead.
- What I plan to do is call China Mobile from abroad a month before arriving next time to set this up so I have data when I arrive. Yeah… I’m a geek.
- There is no 3G access in China
- To call an international number, use the IP dialing, it’s way cheaper. Just a little above SkypeOut for AU mobile calls.
- Dial 12593 then your four digit country code, e.g. 0061, then the number
- The guy on the phone said to “punch in the code” every time, and not save it to the address book or else it may use the standard, non-IP (read: expensive) dialing. I’m not sure if he’s right but I’m not game to test it.
- Apparently this incurs a 5 yuan per month service fee
- Rates on the IP line is 1.5 yuan per minute.
- Intra-China rates are rock-bottom. 0.1 yuan per minute. 0.1 yuan per SMS. If only every mobile carrier was that cheap!
- You can SMS certain commands to 10086
YE is ‘balance inquiry’
CZ <recharge pin> is ‘recharge with this pin’ (only works if you have a positive balance)
Recharging over the Phone
- dial 13800138000
- 2 [for english]
- 2 [to recharge]
- 1# [to recharge current mobile]
- 1 [to confirm]
- enter PIN
- # [to end]
- All done…
- more info
If this was useful for you, perhaps you might like to buy my iPhone App – GPS Log ;-)
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