Communications in Guangzhou

The reliable broad communication facilities in Guangzhou that reaches the entire Pearl River Delta form a convenient communication network extending in all directions. Once you arrive in the city, you will not have much problems communicating with your colleagues and loved ones back home. The only setback, though, is the capacity of everyone outside of your hotel room to converse well in English.

Despite being a tourist and business city, Guangzhou does not make it easy for travellers to speak English as most signs are only in Cantonese. When you step inside a ‘wang ba’ or cybercafé the operating system of a computer and the login procedures are all in the local language, and you will need the assistance of the operator first before you get to access your emails or browse the Internet, not to mention presenting your passport first before you are allowed access.

Good thing most hotels offer free Internet service. You just need to hook up your laptop using an ethernet cable supplied at most hotels and you are good to go. Most coffee shops offer free wireless and ethernet access. Ask the cafe attendant about the configuration and a cable and you will be all fired up.

The setback in this excellent Internet service in Guangzhou, and the rest of China, is its cyber censorship, or what is referred to by many as the “Great Firewall of China”. When accessing foreign websites you will notice some latency, but when browsing local sites the speed will be blazing fast. The reason for this is the government use of proxies to screen websites first before they can be browsed by the local population. From time to time, major websites such as Yahoo, Google, Facebook and Twitter are blocked because the censors see inappropriate content that they consider as immoral or a threat to Chinese government and identity. To start with, these websites are actually not the only biggest players in China, as there are some that are even bigger such as Baidu, Sina, and Alibaba.

If you want to place calls abroad and want to avoid too much roaming charges, calls from Guangzhou are actually cheap and call cards are widely available, from luxury hotels to 7-11s. China Mobile’s Easyown offers cards in the 10, 20 and 50 CNY denominations. Calls within the city cost 0.29CNY per minute during off-peak hours (12AM-11AM) while peak hours (11AM-12AM) cost 0.49CNY per minute. Calls within Guangdong province and the rest of China cost 0.49CNY per minute. Calls abroad range from 0.39CNY to 2.99CNY per minute.

Most hotels provide postal services, but if you need to send a parcel or package, you need to head straight to the local post office especially if you wish to send items that need customs control, like antiques or cultural relics. Guangdong Post office can help you with your mailing needs.

Cable TV is available in most hotels and GZTV (Guangzhou Television) offers English language broadcasts with cultural and entertainment shows. English channels from Hong Kong, Pearl TV and ATV, are available in many hotels, with programs from America and the UK.

Available at newsstands throughout the city are two English language newspapers, Global Times and China Daily.  South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong daily, can be bought here as well. Several other foreign periodicals are on hand in many newsstands and bookstores all over Guangzhou.

How to call Guangzhou:

–       Dial 86 (China’s country code), then 20 (Guangzhou’s area code), then the phone number. Phone numbers are just like in Hong Kong with eight digits.

How to call from Guangzhou:

–       You need to dial the entire number when phoning domestically; meaning ‘0’ is always added before the area code and phone number. If you are calling your home country, dial ‘00’, area code and phone number.

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