Accessing the internet at locations in China is difficult as it comes with a lot of red tape that forces users to authenticate themselves when signing in at public networks such as airports.
I experienced this yesterday at Pudong Airport where no registry machines for internet codes are available in the public area and the information counter wasn’t much help either. The lady said I need a local phone number in order to register which turned out to be false as well.
Once you select the Free Airport Wifi of Shanghai Pudong Airport a window opens that asks you to enter any cellphone number able to receive a SMS code, even overseas ones.
A couple weeks ago I wrote about Chat SIM (see here) which I ordered some time ago. While this card which has a UK phone number doesn’t include SMS services it worked fine for receiving and processing the code. The SMS never showed up on the phone though.
It’s common at malls and public place within China to employ the same registration system. For travelers going to Mainland China I’d like to highlight once again how important it is to have certain basic tools if you want to stay completely connected to social media and also google services.
These tools include a VPN connection, a foreign SIM Card (Hong Kong works too) with a data roaming plan or in the very least a SIM card that allows roaming for text and call in order to receive such verification texts.
China is really a challenge when it comes to wifi and circumventing the great firewall. Roaming charges for cellphones can be quite exorbitant and for computer use a well working VPN (I use Express VPN) is a life saver in many situations.