A quick bit of advice from someone who recently had to deal with Net connection problems in Beijing. When the service guy talks to you on the phone or in person when he shows up at your door, the first question will be “What’s the problem?” Of course he already knows there is a problem, otherwise you would not be calling the service line, but this is obligatory. There are several possible responses, ranging from “I want to turn on Net service” to “My DSL box just caught on fire.”
Let’s assume your problem is, like mine was this week, a painfully slow connection speed. This part is important, because the primary goal of the guy who answers that phone, or shows up at your doorstep, is to NOT HELP YOU.
Now look, you may think that I’m being unduly harsh in my characterization of the poor state of service at China ISPs. Not at all. I’m just being realistic here. The sooner they can kick your complaint out the door, the sooner they can get back to more important things, like taking a nap or playing Flash games.
So remember, there are pitfalls ahead. If you say the wrong thing, you will fall through the cracks and never get your problem solved. The best example of this comes in the form of the second question you’ll get from the telecom company, assuming again that your problem is a slow connection: “Are you having a problem with domestic or foreign sites?”
This is a trap. If you answer “foreign sites,” you will get the shoulder shrug (or verbal equivalent if on the phone). Obviously foreign sites are painfully slow, as they should be, so there’s nothing we can do about that. Right?
The correct answer: I’m having trouble loading Baidu and Taobao pages. This is intolerable!
The subtle context here is that the “foreign Net” is something that Chinese folks just shouldn’t bother with. It’s slow, for some inexplicable reason, and there’s nothing out there that you need anyway. Want Google? We’ve got Baidu. Need to buy stuff? Go to Taobao or 360Buy. Travel needs? Hit eLong or CTrip.
Since the China-based Internet is self-sufficient, there’s no good reason why China ISPs need to care about connecting folks to foreign sites. This argument is perfectly logical, takes its lead from government policy, and has the added bonus of serving the needs of lazy/cheap ISPs.