The city has an advanced telecom infrastructure. Public telephones can be found on most downtown streets. 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 the permission of your landlord.
China Telecom is the biggest fixed-line telecom operator, including public telephones, fixed phones in the office and broadband connection at home and work.
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's two mobile operators
Many telecom outlets in the city look more like stalls. They sell mobile SIM cards, top-up vouchers and even rechargers for most phone models.
The mobile network is very extensive and powerful in Huaian. Signals can even be found in the metro and 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 Huaian for a quite a while, you can become a subscriber to China Mobile or China Unicom. Both of them 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. Yitong card and Jiajia card offer the international call service. Both of the cards are the prepaid kind.
You can top up your mobile phone either with top-up vouchers which 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 also have many international calls can apply a Quanqiu Tong card. Before applying, you should have a local guarantor and take your passport and other official documents to the outlets of China Mobile, Huaian.
If you bring your own cell phone from your home country, you need to check with your operator before coming to Huaian for the rates, because you may be charged with both international long distance calls as well as international roaming charges.
Most Internet cafés in Huaian don't have pleasant conditions, but they charge very low. Remember the Chinese characters "网吧" for Internet café.
It's not very easy for a foreigner to find an Internet caféon street corners as they don't have obvious signs. Get help from a local who can show you the way.
Internet cafés usually charge 2-5 yuan (25cents to 62cents) per hour. The charges vary, based on the computers' configuration.
You can also hook up to broadband connection, 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 deposit fee is 500 yuan. The customer service number is 10000.