Getting Connected to Landlines in China

Find out how to get your new home connected to the landline telephone service in China...

The telecommunications industry in China is dominated by three main state-owned companies: China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile. The first two provide landline, mobile and Internet services, and the third focuses on providing mobile services. All three have customer branches and shops throughout the country. The telecommunications regulator is the Ministry of Information Industry (MII).

There has been a huge increase in mobile and Internet usage in the past ten years, and services tend to be good in the main urban areas. Internet usage is restricted by a government firewall, which blocks or restricts access to over 2,700 websites.

Main Telephone Providers

  • China Telecom - landline, Internet and mobile
    At: Main office 31 Jinrong Street, Xicheng District, Beijing 100033
    Tel: 10000 - 24-hour customer helpline
  • China Unicom - landline, Internet and mobile
    At: Main office 21 Financial Street, Xicheng District, Beijing 100140
    Tel: 10010 - 24-hour customer helpline
  • China Mobile - mobile telephone operator
    At: Main office 60/F, The Center, 99 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong
    Tel: 10086 - 24-hour customer helpline

Landline Telephones

Most apartments and houses have a landline installed with either China Telecom or China Unicom. Upon moving in, the tenant may need to call the service provider to activate an account in their name, unless telephone services are provided as part of the rental package. To activate the service, call the relevant 24-hour service number, and then press 2 to connect to the English service. The landlord or employer may also assist in setting up the account.

If line installation, rather than just activation, is required, it is necessary to visit a local branch of either China Telecom or China Unicom. Basic documentation such as passport and visa is required, plus proof of address and residency contract. A deposit may be requested.

Telephone bills

Bills are usually in the form of a standard monthly flat rate inclusive of local calls, with long-distance domestic and international calls charged additionally. Other tariffs may be available, such as a lower monthly flat rate but a small per-minute charge for local calls. Local landline to landline calls are usually free.

China Telecom has local subsidiaries, such as Shanghai Telecom and Beijing Telecom. Their 24-hour numbers are the same as for China Telecom.