Last updated on Feb 28, 2012
Suzhou has an advanced telecom infrastructure. Mobile operators support GSM and CDMA cell phones. Most office buildings have Internet connections and Internet cafes are almost everywhere. It’s also easy and inexpensive to install broadband in apartments that you rent, given you have the landlord’s permission.
China Mobile and China Unicom are the two mobile operators. China Mobile has an extensive GSM network while China Unicom supports both GSM and CDMA cell phones.
China Telecom is the biggest fixed-line telecom operator, including public telephones, fixed phones in the office, broadband connection at home and work, E-Surfing mobile and IPTV.
Many telecom outlets in the city look more like stalls. They sell mobile SIM cards, top-up vouchers and even chargers for most phone models.
The mobile network is very extensive and powerful in Suzhou. Signals can even be found in many elevators. Both GSM and CDMA cell phones have networks. The city supports high-speed wireless networks based on GPRS and WAP, but 3G networks are still undergoing tests.
If you stay in Suzhou for quite a while, you can become a subscriber to China Mobile or China Unicom. Both offer fixed period packages and flexible SIM cards. A standard text message costs 0.1 yuan.
How to apply
Here, it’s better for you to buy a flexible card, which enables you to top up your account at any time. All the telecom outlets sell such prepaid SIM cards.
You can top up your mobile phone either with top-up vouchers that are available in all telecom outlets, or at the city’s official utility payment website which is accessible from here. Please ensure that you have an account at a local bank to use the online payment system.
Foreigners who will settle down in the city and also have many international calls can apply for a Quanqiu Tong card. Before applying, you should have a local guarantor and take your passport and other official documents to China Mobile outlets in Suzhou.
If you bring your own cell phone from your home country, you need to check with your operator before coming to Suzhou for the rates, because you may be charged for both international long distance calls as well as international roaming charges.
It’s not very easy for a foreigner to find an Internet cafe on street corners, as they don’t have obvious signs. Get help from a local who can show you the way.
You can also hook up to broadband connections, choosing from ADSL, Cable, FTTP+LAN and HomePNA. Some operators also offer wireless LAN. Users can build their own wireless LAN after installing a wireless router at home. You can go to any outlet of China Telecom, with your passport and the guarantor’s ID card to apply. The customer service number is 10000.
Foreigners can bring their passports, Hong Kong and Macao residents their Chinese mainland pass, and permits for Taiwan Residents to Travel to and from Inland China and go to the business hall to apply.
To apply for the IDD service, individuals should carry valid certificates (ID card, passport, military ID card, Hong Kong and Macao residents with the mainland pass, and permits for Taiwan Residents to Travel to and from Inland China, etc.) and a valid agent’s certificate. Company applicants should bring the official seal (or letter of introduction covered with the official seal), organization institution code certification, Industry and Commerce Registration Certificate, and tax registration certificate.
Note: Postpaid telephones should be changed to prepaid ones before opening IDD services, unless users pay by collections.
IC card and intelligent public telephones are the two main types of public phones in Suzhou.
For IC card users, the local and domestic long-distance call: 0.10 yuan (1.6 US cents) per minute.
Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macao, USA, Canada and Singapore: 1.00 yuan per minute；
International calls to other nations: 8.00 yuan per minute.
For intelligent public telephone users, the local call: 0.20 yuan per minute；
Domestic long-distance call: 0.3 yuan per minute；
Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau: 1.5 yuan per minute；
USA and Canada: 2.4 yuan per minute；
Japan, Korea, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Iceland, Panama, Marianas, Bermuda Islands, Malawi, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Bahrain, Kuwait, Brunei, Cyprus, Laos: 3.6 yuan per minute；
French Guiana, St Lucia, Guadeloupe, Mayotte, Lesotho, Estonia, Mali, Morocco, Bulgaria, Kenya, Burma, Congo, Syria, Angola, Nigeria, Belgium, Senegal, Switzerland, Qatar, White Russia: 7.6 yuan per minute；
Djibouti, Korea, Liechtenstein, Greenland, Ascension, Western Samoa, Eritrea, Marshall Islands: 12 yuan per minute;
Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue Island, Norfolk, East Timor, SAO TOME & Principe, St Helena Islands, Wallis & Futuna, Guinea-Bissau, Solomon Islands, Cuba, Cook Island, Falkland Islands, Somalia, Tuvalu, Vanuatu: 15 yuan per minute；
Other countries and regions: 4.6 yuan per minute.
Public telephone card can be bought in Telecom business hall with a face value of 30 yuan each.
IP cards are colorful with different designs. They are also collectors’ items apart from their basic functionality.
Warning! You can’t just simply pick up a phone in the city and call home. You need to buy an IP card. They’re cheap and widely available at grocery stores and post offices. IP cards aren’t suitable for every phone, but you can usually use IP cards through fix-lined phones and cell phones.
Domestic long-distanced calls and international calls are charged at different fees. You can dial China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom customer service numbers to obtain price details.
China Telecom’s IP card
Suzhou Telecom now provides the 17900 IP card, which can be bought in the Telecom business hall with a face value of 100 yuan each. The method of dialing IDD: dial 17900 – select language – account number – password – called number.