In Shanghai, without YouTube

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After a few weeks in Shanghai, I am finally settling and getting used to China, and how crazy they drive in Shanghai.

I have a decent 2Mbps ADSL line at home that works much better than the broadband I was getting from Telekom Malaysia in KL. P2P traffic is not throttled aparently, unlike in Telekom Malaysia, but since 24 March YouTube is blocked in China. Nobody knows officially why, but I am missing the highlights from the Spanish Liga in YouTube, which by the way were harder and harder to find before they were (instantly) removed due to copyright issues.

On the mobile side, almost everybody uses China Mobile in Shanghai. iPhones although not officially launched can be easily acquired in stores (imported from US, Hong-Kong or Singapore) . The iPhone 3G is quite popular and you can see a lot of them in Shanghai, despite 3G in China is not yet available. It will be launched very soon, on 17 May, the International Day of Telecommunications. I was also about to buy a G1, “imported” from T-Mobile, but somehow the Google account was impossible to activate, probably because the hack was blocked.

When the 3G licenses were awarded, the market in China was reorganized around three operators :

  • China Mobile with the Chinese standard TD-SCDMA
  • China Unicom with WCDMA (UMTS)
  • China Telecom with CDMA-EVDO

China Unicom will launch the iPhone 3G, and I would not be surprised if in one year, the number of iPhones in China would surpass those in USA.

On the TV side, Cable TV is very popular, given that it costs 13 RMB per month, or less than 1.5 Euro! for about 50 channels, all Chinese. International content is officially not available, but specially many foreigners “subscribe” to Dream, a Satellite Digital TV provider from Philippines that does include in their packages CNN, BBC, ESPN, HBO, TCM and others.

Regulation for TV and telecommunications is handled by separate bodies, the SARFT for broadcasters and the MII for Telcos. Cable Operators have only recently been allowed to provide broadband services, while Shanghai Telecom launched IPTV for free with some limitations in what TV services they can offer.

SARFT has developed a local standard for Mobile TV called CMMB (China Multimedia Mobile Broadcasting), that after the Beijing Olympics reached more than 1 million users, which is a big success in user adoption, compared to other Mobile TV experiences, specially in Europe and US.  The service is Free-To-Air, and car GPS systems and some Portable Media Players incorporate CMMB tuners. Mobile Phones have also been only recently allowed to incorporate a tuner. With the cost of the chip-set going under $5, SARF expects to reach more than 10 million users in 2010.

The Chinese people can not enjoy YouTube, but anyway most of them do not speak English (yet). In return they can watch a lot of CCTV, enve on the mobile!