by
on February 23, 2016 on 2/23/16

The wifi struggle

你好, Hello,

I apologize for all of the late posts! I learned very quickly that the wifi here is comparable to dial up, maybe worse! It’s been a lot of trial and error to get to a place of “decent” internet connection. I asked a lot of questions about the wifi prior to arriving and the common answer was “as long as you have a vpn you will be ok” that’s not exactly the case. Here is what I have learned:

  1. Wifi on campus is pretty much useless. There are two wifi connections but both are comparable to dial up, probably worse. You can get a connection once and a while but it won’t last long. It’s taken me literally hours to upload videos.
  2. You can purchase a wireless router but very few students have been able to successfully connect it. The on site technical support person doesn’t speak much English and my friend has yet to get his router connected properly.
  3. Wifi is available for free throughout Shanghai, however you must have a Chinese phone number to receive a code to connect to it. This means you must take your passport to China Mobile and purchase a Chinese SIM card. I believe the basic plan starts around 30 CNY per month and it’s not useful for calling home (too expensive) it’s only for receiving a wifi code and calling/texting  locally.
  4. The best option for me was to increase my wifi data plan through T-Mobile. For an extra $20 USD per month I have 4G and have been able to connect to wifi on my phone. This is the best option for communicating with friends and family back home. FaceTime video/audio and text messaging are included in my plan. International phone calls are charged by the minute and very pricey regardless if you have a Chinese sim or not.
  5. If you have a Chinese sim and must make international calls the best option is to dial 17951 00 1 before the area code. This reduces the cost from 8 CNY per minute to a fraction of a CNY per minute. Either way it adds up quickly (I learned the hard way).
  6. Pizza Hut, everyone here that knows me jokes, if they can’t find me on campus I can be found at Pizza Hut in Danning Plaza a mile or so from the campus. With a Chinese phone number you can connect to their wifi which seems to be the best connection I have found yet. Although, when the restaurant is busy it seems the connection is slower, maybe because more users are connected at the same time. Pizza Hut food prices can be expensive compared to other food options around here but the food is much better than a regular Pizza Hut in the US and the wifi makes it worthwhile.
  7. Express VPN, I won’t go into detail because there is a lot of controversy here regarding VPN use. Bottom line, to connect to any websites outside of mainland China you need a VPN.

Even as I type this from my phone which has almost full bars the website says “connection lost” at the top of the page. Welcome to China! The wifi struggle is real!