ADSL is available in Beijing at speeds of up to 2MB/s. Current rates are a mere RMB150/month. Installations take less than a week from application. However, download speeds for foreign sites are poor, more akin to dial-up connections abroad. Voice and video streaming quality is also often poor. The reason? There's a bottleneck for data coming in and out of China. Pundits blame a national level firewall and a shortage of undersea cable bandwidth. On the bright side, new cables are being laid.

It's easy to test whether slow internet access is caused by the bottleneck. Go to a Chinese site such as or If the Chinese sites load quickly, your slow internet access is probably due to the bottleneck. If the sites load as slowly as foreign web sites, then there may be a solvable technical problem. Internet access at your office may be quick. If so, this is may be because your company has expensive priority access that is not affected by the national bottleneck. You may be able to tap into this access from home via your company's VPN. Check with your company's IT department about this.

GPRS services are available in most parts of China, but not in remote areas. You can get GPRS on a monthly billed mobile phone or on a 6 month pre-paid card that can be used in a PCMCIA or USB GPRS modem. 3G services are not available in Beijing but are expected soon.

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