China’s Internet speeds are a common subject of griping among those with online experience overseas. The Internet here can often be painfully slow. It is not easy to get a decent Internet connection in China. Even more unfortunately, many websites are officially blocked. So if you are going to China, you’d better be prepared for it.
According to Akamai, in the third quarter of 2014 China ranked 10th in the Asia-Pacic region for fastest internet speeds, with an average of about 3.8 Mbps. Average speed on mobile in China is 6.2 Mbps, with peak speeds at 16.7 Mbps.
Why is the Internet so slow in China?
China is a big country with the world’s largest internet population (632 million), and many of China’s areas are still underdeveloped, so it’s difficult and costly to build a sophisticated network at that scale. China is now facing challenges in upgrading its relevant infrastructure.
In China there is an ISP monopoly consisting of three major telecom carriers: China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom. With no competition, they have little incentive to strengthen the network construction. And it has led to inflated prices. According to Akamai, users in China spend around 83 yuan (US$13.29) a month on average to get online.
Another cause of slow internet connection is the Great Firewall of China. The Great Firewall slows the internet down considerably. Due to its security measures, you will have slow internet speed when accessing international sites even though the sites are not blocked.
So if there are anything can be done to speed it up?
The answer is yes. You can get a new web service provider or spend more money to get a better connection. Or you may consider getting a good VPN with fast download speed.
In fact with VPN the speeds of your Internet connection should usually be less than without, but if you want to access international sites, VPN service could be a huge improvement. A great VPN can help you improve your internet performance by managing packet size and retransmission policies. It makes your external connection more stable.
We use ExpressVPN and we believe it to be the best VPN for China. ExpressVPN is a solid VPN provider that offers fantastic speeds, high level of security and good technical supports. It’s good to use for online banking and other sensitive issues. You can see our review on ExpressVPN here.
Which ISP is the best in China?
Although most hotels and cafes offer complimentary WiFi, you may still want to get an internet connection for your own home. Here are the average speeds of three main ISPs:
China Telecom (4.06 Mbps)
China Unicom (3.87 Mbps)
China Mobile (3.77 Mbps)
As you can see above, China Mobile provides the slowest internet speeds amongst the three main telecom companies. So if you have a greater demand of the internet access, we suggest you select China Telecom or China Unicom. As for charges, internet access charges of China Mobile and China Telecom are more expensive than China Unicom. So if you also have request to fees, you can go for China Unicom as it seems to be an all-round choice.
The Good News
The internet speeds in China right now are not great. But don’t despair, China being the fastest growing economy, is undergoing remarkable and rapid changes. Its Internet has seen rapid progress in both technology and expansion of users. Internet connection speeds around China have increased by up to 20% in 2014.
Because Chinese government already realizes how important the internet is to modern economies. China is planning to build stronger Internet infrastructure throughout China. The State Council said that citing broadband speeds in urban and rural households will reach 50 Mbps and 12 Mbps by 2020. With no sign of growth slowing, China’s Internet speeds will get faster and faster.