IDD fixed line services are available in Beijing and are normally installed within 7 days. Caller ID is an add-on service and must be specified on subscribing. Besides normal monthly billed subscriptions, the telephone company also offers pre-paid fixed line services. For pre-paid subscriptions, the user buys call minutes with a pre-paid card. Incoming calls are free. One advantage of a pre-paid subscription over a monthly billed subscription is that billing cycles are delayed so landlords don't know the final telephone bill until days after the tenant moves out. This means a slight delay in repaying the security deposit. By having a pre-paid subscription this delay can be avoided at the end of a lease.
Both GSM and CDMA services are available in China. Most professionals choose GSM due to its dominance in Asia (with the exception of Japan and Korea) allowing for easy roaming when traveling in the region. It is possible to buy a pre-paid GSM sim-card on arrival at the airport or at many outlets in the city. There are a range of service options with varying fixed call-minute packages. It is also possible to apply for a monthly billed mobile service. You'll need to bring your passport when applying. If the service is in your company's name, you'll need to bring a stamped copy of your company's business licence and the relevant authorisation letters.
Numbers are not transferable between providers, or between pre-paid and monthly billed services at a single provider. International roaming, GPRS and IDD are additional services only available to subscribers with monthly billed accounts. The options must be specified at application. IDD services require that a significant deposit be paid.
VOIP and Skype
For international calls, most use pre-paid IP cards, or a VOIP service like Skype for international calls. Pre-paid IP cards calls are inexpensive and available at many news agents. Skype call quality is normally good but can sometimes be poor during peak internet usage hours. Skype to Skype calls are of course free. Mobile phone users with IDD services can dial 17951 prior to dialing out to avail of slightly favourable IP call rates compared to mobile IDD. For fixed lines, it's possible to set up a monthly billed IP account. The best international IP call rates are from pre-paid cards sold at outlets around the city.
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