China Telecom Broadband in Guangzhou Part 2

 Continued from China Telecom Broadband in Guangzhou Part 1

Now for the downside of subscribing to China Telecom in Guangzhou. Take note that I'm using my experience with China Telecom in Shanghai and China Unicom in Beijing as a basis for comparison.

My experience with China Telecom Guangzhou consisted of the following:

1. The monthly fee is roughly twice as high with China Telecom Guangzhou's broadband service compared with the cost in Shanghai and Beijing. As mentioned, I chose the 50MB monthly service (as opposed to the 100MB tier) and it was still much more expensive than Beijing and Shanghai. With China Unicom and China Telecom in Beijing and Shanghai respectively, I paid a fee of roughly 1300++ RMB ($205.00++ USD) per year. I just paid once and forgot about it for one whole year before having to visit the office again to pay for another year. In Guangzhou, you have to pay a monthly fee of 199RMB (USD$31+ ) per month and they don't offer to make it cheaper if you paid for one whole year in advance. Sammi, the friendly English-speaking China Telecom rep who handled my order, was actually surprised I paid 6 months in advance. She even asked me if I had a Guangzhou debit card so I can pay online for convenience.

Note: Perhaps I am a bit harsh about the monthly fee considering that the Shanghai and Beijing services I subscribed to never promised 50MB or 100MB broadband speeds (I opted for the 10MB speed in Beijing). Still, as a foreigner who visits mostly Western sites, paying extra for the inflated broadband speed was a bit disappointing.

2. You have to pay for the modem and you have to return the modem after ending your service. Yes, this makes sense in most cases. What doesn't make much sense is that I didn't have to pay a rental for the modem or return the CPE in Shanghai and Beijing. I didn't have to pay for installation of the service either. In fact, I left the provided China Telecom and China Unicom 4-port ADSL modems in my apartment when I moved from the two cities. Sammi explained that I have to pay an installation fee up front and a one-time payment for the modem. What's worst is that the provided CPE is just a 2-port modem with only one working Ethernet port. The other LAN jack was disabled for use from the firmware.

 

Note: A 1-port modem isn't so bad when paired with a Wi-Fi router, but I just felt that considering I'm renting the modem and I have to return it when I'm done, they should have at least given me a decent model with 4 Ethernet ports. In Beijing and Shanghai, I connected one Ethernet port to a Windows machine and two other Ethernet ports to an openSUSE server and Debian workstation.


 


3. The onsite installation is pretty non-standard. To be fair, the onsite technician was friendly and was patient even though my Mandarin was awful. However, he certainly wasn't dressed in uniform unlike the techs in Shanghai and Beijing. He came to my apartment lugging a ladder and I would've mistaken him for a painter if it weren't for the bundle of fiber cables he carried. Guangzhou is a pretty old city and the apartment building I was living in certainly wasn't new, but I never realized how old the building was until the onsite technician kept going back and forth between the NID one floor down and the wiring on my floor. Suffice to say, the way he strung the fiber to connect it to my apartment sort of breached standard CTNS practices.

 

The crux of the 1-hour installation process? Without saying a word, my visitor took out a small pick hammer and then took two whacks on my apartment door's concrete frame. This took me totally by surprise and I knew that my dreadful landlady will charge me for the damages when my contract in Guangzhou is over. The contractor used his makeshift hole to string the fiber cable from the outside wiring into my bedroom to complete the circuit to the modem.

 
I helped the gent as best as I could with the installation, which I never had to do with the more meticulous installation team in Shanghai and the uniformed professional in Beijing. I offered my Guangzhou onsite tech a glass of water and gum and responded to his mix of Cantonese and Mandarin with my pidgin Mandarin regarding my work (he thought I was an English teacher). He had trouble with the Edge browser on my Windows 10-powered Zotac ZBOX Nano mini-PC but otherwise was able to run a footprint test (I got roughly 64MB of data speed according to his service level CPE software).

 


Note: As with Shanghai and Beijing, I always had a Windows machine ready for the onsite techs and avoided offering them a Linux machine instead. The network provider software they install is always Windows and I'd rather not have them fumble around if I showed them my Debian 8 Jessie or Fedora 22 laptops.

I'll have to revisit the China Telecom office to pay for another 6 months of broadband. I am, of course, happy to be back online while living in Guangzhou. After spending more than a month in Southern China without ADSL, it was a relief to have access to high-speed Internet again (or an approximation thereof in the Middle Kingdom). China Telecom's network is undoubtedly the largest in Guangzhou and I probably didn't have much of choice unless I wanted to try services from smaller CLECs and independent providers. Most people probably wouldn't complain too much about the monthly fee but after Beijing and Shanghai I was just surprised about the price.

As for the wall in the apartment living room, I'm just hoping no mosquitoes fly in during the humid months. 

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