Telephone lines are reliable in China. There is a lack of competition that allows for high prices of service.
Calling outside the country is often difficult, sometimes impossible without a calling card. If you plan on calling internationally from this line consult with the representative for the best plan for you.
The country code for mainland China is 86. The city code for Beijing is 10. A list of other city codes can be accessed here.
The format of calls is: country code + city code + personal number.
The exit code for China is 00.
Local Calls While in China to a Landline Number:
Area code + landline number (For example, 010-66504365).
Local Calls While in China to a Cellular Number:
Dial the cellular number (e.g. 13301234567).
International Call While in China to an International Destination:
00 + country code + telephone number.
The largest provider is Beijing Telecom. You can call to set-up service from overseas or from within Beijing. An application must be made and usually takes 3-6 days to process. If you are renting, the landlord should make the application. To make the application, you need to bring proof of home ownership.
Pone booths can be easily located on the roadside, hotels, railway stations, airports and malls. Most require an IC card which can be purchased in newsstands or at the post office. It has the domination of 10, 20, 30, 50, 100 RMB. Once you insert the IC card into the phone booth there are prompts in Mandarin and English and you can make a call.
Using a prepaid card can be the easiest way to make international calls. Cards are usually cheap and the connection is very clear. Cards typically have a value of 100 RMB, but sometimes can be bought for as little as 25 RMB. Cards come with Chinese instructions, but after dialing the number listed on the card English-spoken instructions are available. As a general indication of price, a call from China to Europe lasts around 22 minutes with a 100 RMB card. Calls to the U.S. and Canada are advertised to be 20 percent cheaper.
Various sites offer the ability to "chat" with other users. Originally this meant typed messages that would instantly pop up on each others screens. In recent years, this has expanded to being able to voice and video chat. With service through the internet, it is cheap, easy, and even better then a phone call.
Skype is far and away the best technology as users can message, talk, or video chat with other internet users for free. Users can also call land lines and mobile phones for a fee. Other useful services include goggle talk, windows live messenger, meebo, and more.
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