This week we have decided to share a couple of letters from readers we received in recent days.
Question: Where can I arrange mobile e-mail and surfing for my HP laptop? I hear GPRS has a card that goes into my laptop and then I can surf in China. Is this true and do you know how to get this? -R. Millwood, Beijing
Answer: This is very easy to do in Beijing. You can contact China Mobile's Ms. Hua Bin at 13901287057. She is running a pilot project that, until this moment, was pretty much unknown to many folks in Beijing. She can provide you a Merlin GPRS card, SIM card, and 12 months of unlimited use for about CNY2500. This is an excellent deal. China Mobile is running this pilot program to gauge interest in some of their products. The connectivity is decent–I've been using it for about 6 months–and you can connect at about 56kbps. Plus, you can send and receive SMS messages from your laptop with ease–a great tool for hammering SMS games with requests and making sure you win those games! The GPRS card can be used anywhere in China that you can use a mobile phone, and gives you much more maneuverability than a Wi-Fi card, though it is much slower than most hotspots you'll find. If you are outside of Beijing, you can still contact Ms. Hua and she can connect you with her underlings at China Mobile in other cities.
Question: I need to find an ISP in Shanghai or Beijing to host my company site. The old ISP I had in Shanghai was blocked and my e-mail never made it to people in places in Europe. Who is a good host to use?
Answer: This is a great question, and something we've discussed many times over the last 4 years on the China Internet Update. No host in China is 100% efficient when sending overseas. Even if an ISP in China is very clean and does not harbor any spammers, some ISPs elsewhere in the world will still block any email coming from China, or other spots in Asia. Yes, this is wrong for those overseas operators to do something like this, but there is not much you can do about it. On the other hand, we can not vouch for any particular ISP in China, but we can offer some tools to help you find a good one:
1) Before you commit to an ISP, make sure to get your proposed IP address from them and then test whether it is blocked around the world. You can test it by going to a link like Mail-Abuse. If the IP is found to be blocked, don't use that IP and ask for another one–or switch to a different company.
2) Go to http://groups.google.com and search if that ISP has a good record. There will always be some bad feedback for even the best ISPs, so use your judgment and read things carefully.
3) Make sure your ISP has terms and conditions that allow you to leave them in a hurry if for some reason they are blocked in the future.