Getting Broadband in Shanghai (China Telecom) Part 1
Shanghai is considered one of the more friendlier cities for foreigners. Getting broadband Internet, one of the more essential tasks after procuring an apartment in Shanghai, thankfully can be part of this pleasant experience for visitors. The process is surprisingly not as painful as I expected, though I still asked for assistance from a Chinese co-worker when I applied for service. There are plenty of Internet services available in wealthy Shanghai (you'll get plenty of fliers in your mailbox every weekend) but for the area of Minhang, a section of Shanghai quite a distance from Pudong, I opted for China's version of AT&T - China Telecom (which probably owns most of the network cabinets, fiber optic lines, and exchanges).
1. Get your District/Apartment's exact address - This is a no-brainer but make sure you have your address in Chinese. The address is found on your Police clearance certificate you had to apply for when you arrived in Shanghai. Also, it's on the contract with your landlord. Photocopy the document and bring a copy with you when you visit China Telecom.
2. Locate the closest China Telecom Office - The China Telecom office in Minhang is a huge building close to Minhang Centre Mall (with the Tesco supermarket). It's also opposite a KFC and a short bus ride from my district. Baidu's maps are pretty good though China Telecom's web site can be a bit daunting. Ask for assistance from a local before taking the Metro or trying out a bus route.
3. Wait in a queue - Get a number at the entrance from the ticketing machine. Ask the attendant to get you the correct number queue (residential) or you may end up lining up for the wrong service. China Telecom does have an English service desk so inform the attendant if you have trouble with the language (the wait time may or may not be longer). Like most services in China, the queue can go up to hundreds. The wait at China Telecom took more than 2 hours (and this was early in the morning). There were HTC, Samsung, and Huawei devices on display to keep me company, but I was more concerned about my companion's patience.
4. The application form - Once you get to the service desk, take out your passport and address. You don't really get to choose your broadband speed since China Telecom will provision your residence first and let you know. The contract is pretty sparse but the long and short of it is that you have to pay for one whole year before you can proceed with a monthly payment scheme. Now here's the tricky part. After signing the application form, you'll have to call their hotline number after 3-4 hours to check if the service is available in your address. In some locations, you may have to wait for a few days.