Sometimes, understanding how Chinese phone companies work can be problematic – especially since all the information is in Chinese and all you can make out are random numbers. The most popular mobile companies are China Mobile (中国移动) and China Unicom (中国联通). Although both state-owned, they have different prices and packages for phone services. Here is some basic information to help you to get started and figure out the plan that works best for you.
Established in 2009, China Unicom is a relatively new telecommunications provider. To talk to an operator or simply top up your phone, dial China Unicom’s service line (10010) and press “9” for English service. China Unicom currently offers three package plans:
- Package A: Suitable for customers who need Internet access. The plan includes domestic calls, domestic text messages, free incoming calls (domestic only) and GPRS. Monthly fees vary depending on the number of minutes for calls and GPRS data included. It costs anywhere from RMB 45 per month (50 minutes and 150MB of data) to RMB 886 per month (3,000 minutes and 3GB of data). The only plan that includes SMS costs RMB 66 per month with 240 text messages, 50 minutes worth of domestic calls and 300 MB of data. Exceeding these limits will cost you RMB 0.0003/KB for the data and RMB 0.15-0.25/min for domestic calls depending on the plan.
- Package B: Suitable for people who need to make calls within China. This plan includes domestic phone calls, GPRS and free incoming domestic calls that vary from RMB 46 (20 minutes of domestic calls and 40 MB of data) to RMB 186 (1,180 minutes of domestic calls and 150MB of data) per month. Going over these limits incurs the same extra costs as package A.
- Package C: Suitable for customers who mainly make calls within Beijing. Like package B, this plan includes domestic calls, GPRS, and free incoming domestic calls. Costs vary from RMB 46 (260 minutes and 40 MB) to RMB 96 (550 minutes and 80 MB) per month. Extra fees are the same as in package A.
China Mobile probably has more 50 plans available to customers depending on their individual needs. The best way to find out which one is most suitable for you is to go to a China Mobile branch or to call the customer service line (10086). Press 0 to reach the operator; here, you will be able to switch to English service and ask about set plans.
China Mobile’s services include long-distance calls within China, international long-distance calls, intra-provincial roaming, inter-provincial roaming, international roaming, and more. If you are abroad and need customer service, you can dial China Mobile’s international hotline at 138 0010 0186.
With research by Morgan Shang
Photo by Rab’s Da on flickr