So here I am trying to set up an ADSL connection in the place we moved into. The owner had been paying for ADSL for quite some time, so presumably it worked. But neither of the two Ethernet connections in the house seemed to have signal in them, so I ended up calling the ADSL repair folks. In Shanghai, this means China Telecom.
The repair guy comes over, tests both Ethernet ports, and verified that there indeed weren’t signals coming out of them. He then goes into the phone panel in the house and begins disconnecting all sorts of wires. It’s a mess in there, a veritable bird’s nest of thin-gauge technicolor wiring. But no matter. He starts cutting and ripping them all out. Finally, he connects two tiny wires together.
Back upstairs. Now testing the phone jacks. Doesn’t work in the office. No worries, let’s try the guest bedroom. Ah, the phone line seems to work there. Let’s now connect an ADSL modem to it.
Great. Everything now works from the guest bedroom.
Me: “Great! Can we now get it working from the office?”
Phone-Love: “How about you just use the Internet from here?”
Me: “The guest bedroom? I was thinking of using the computer from the office… it’s the one with the Ethernet port, right?”
Phone-Love: “The port’s not working. The phone line there’s not working either.” It, by the way, doesn’t seem to cross his mind that his chop-job in the garage might have had anything to do with this.
Me: “But isn’t the point of the Ethernet port that our network connection should come through it? Can’t we get that working? Or at least the phone line in the office?”
Phone-Love: Dead serious, with no self-detected I’m-From-China-Telecom irony. “That’s not my job. The phone line upstairs is broken. Not sure what that Ethernet port was for. Why don’t you just use the guest room to access the Internet?”
If it’s not the China Telecom guy’s job to get a phone line working, I’m not sure whose job it is. But no matter. Here I am, coming to you from the guest room. That’s not all — there’s more.
I bought an ADSL modem from Metro City, a mall in Xujiahui that sells all sorts of computer goods. (It also has a fabulous food court in the basement for those marathon shopping trips.) If you’re going to buy an ADSL modem, I’d highly recommend getting one that has an English interface. The local brand, TP-Link, does not have English menus. So good luck there — you’ll probably recognize one or two familiar-sounding terms, like DHCP or NAT. But the rest won’t be usable.
I pat myself on the back for being smart enough to get a D-Link, whose interface is indeed in English (mostly). Herein begins the fun. I plug in the ADSL modem, enter my username and password, and nothing happens. No Internet. I look around the menus and discover that I might need to modify “VPI” and “VCI” numbers (which apparently vary from carrier to carrier). Onto the phone to China Telecom speedy helpdesk.
Me: “Hello, I’m trying to get an ADSL modem configured for use on your network.”
ADSL-Love: “You don’t need to configure anything.”
Me: “I’ve put in my username and password, but there’s still no connection.”
ADSL-Love: “Oh, right, you do need to put those in, but then it’ll work.”
Me: “It doesn’t.”
ADSL-Love: “It’ll work. You don’t need to configure anything.”
Me: At this point, instead of trying to articulate the reality of the absolutely nothingness that was going on in my
office guestroom, I take a different tack. “What are the VCI and VPI settings for China Telecom’s ADSL?”
ADSL-Love: “You don’t need to know those. You don’t need to set them. You know, for those settings, you should call your modem manufacturer.”
Me: “But aren’t those settings carrier-dependent? The manufacturer wouldn’t know those, right?” “Carrier-dependent,” by the way, is a gross exaggeration of what I said in my second-grade-level Mandarin. The literal sentences were probably something more like, “Aren’t those switches which I here set modem only you know? Not modem maker? You have numbers? VCI, VPI? Capiche?”
ADSL-Love: “No, you don’t need to set those. Your manufacturer can help you.”
As you’ve probably guessed, D-Link has absolutely nothing to say on this subject. Rightfully so, since those settings are indeed carrier dependent.
To save you new-to-Shanghai folks some ADSL Love of you own, here are the critical settings you need to know:
Channel: PVC0 (that’s channel zero)
VCI: 81 (decimal, or 51 hex, depending on your router)
These settings will only work in Shanghai for ADSL. Other parts of China are sometimes run by different carriers. The parts that are China Telecom outside Shanghai may have different VPI/VCI settings. In those cases, you don’t need to configure anything. It’ll just work. Or you could call your modem manufacturer. Heheh.
For a full (though possibly outdated) list, search online for “china telecom vci vpi.” There are a variety of sites that list ADSL settings worldwide (primarily for Linux drivers, apparently).