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China/HK Dual Number SIM Cards

China/HK Dual Number SIM Cards

Old May 3, 19, 9:55 pm
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China/HK Dual Number SIM Cards

So...both China Mobile HK and China Unicom HK used to sell dual number prepaid SIM cards (I even had one of these at one point, but unfortunately I forgot to top it off and it expired). Now it seems that both companies have responded to the real name registration requirement on the +86 number by ceasing to sell prepaid SIM cards, and now only sell postpaid cards with the 1-card-2-number feature. CSL also appears to have a 1-card-2-number feature, but again, it's postpaid and requires a contract for the best rates.

I am in China probably 1-4 weeks per year, so it doesn't make sense for me to do a long term contract. I currently have a China Unicom HK SIM that I keep active at all times (HK$6 per month service fee), but it has only a HK number, not a China number. This is annoying for all of the wifi hotspots with those damn captive portals that for some reason require a +86 number in order to use (you enter the +86 number and it texts you a code that you can use to enable wifi). So, I would like to get a card with a +86 number on it.

Anyone know of any of the 1-card-2-number products that are currently sold, like this one
https://1cm.hk.chinamobile.com/onlin....html?cid=1328
or this one
https://www.cuniq.com/hk/services-pl...ared-plan.html
(1) Can be purchased without a contract (so you'd pay a higher monthly fee but not be locked into paying that fee every single month)? and
(2) Can be suspended for a much smaller cost than paying for the service itself? Ideally, between HK$6 and HK$30 per month.

For example, China Unicom mainland SIM cards do have the option to suspend the service for something like 2-6 RMB per month. If I could sign up for one of these services, give them my passport to enable the mainland number, and then suspend the service when I leave and re-enable it when I come back, that would be ideal. It looks like CMHK charges HK$18/month just for the mainland number (not sure if that would apply while it's suspended too, if that's even possible), but I might be willing to deal with a greater monthly fee just to get rid of the annoyance of not being able to use those wifi hotspots unless I ask my wife for the code that the portal returns to her phone.

I'd rather avoid getting a mainland SIM card because then I'd have to keep my VPN running when I am on LTE, which kills the battery faster.
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Old May 3, 19, 10:14 pm
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Maybe around Sheung Shui Station there might still be people selling those two-number prepaid cards, I don't know for certain. SSP you can look around, too. But on the whole they seem to have disappeared.

I've been through this and getting a Mainland SIM is the simplest approach. Note also that the Mainland number on those two-number cards often doesn't work for SMS codes and the like for technical reasons. Been there, too.
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Old May 4, 19, 2:22 am
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
Maybe around Sheung Shui Station there might still be people selling those two-number prepaid cards, I don't know for certain. SSP you can look around, too. But on the whole they seem to have disappeared.

I've been through this and getting a Mainland SIM is the simplest approach. Note also that the Mainland number on those two-number cards often doesn't work for SMS codes and the like for technical reasons. Been there, too.
Back when I had my dual number SIM, I used it for SMS and it worked just fine. And in any case, I'm pretty sure that the postpaid SIM cards should work, too. Question is, can I keep one for a reasonable price during the 11 out of 12 months of the year when I am not in China?
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Old May 4, 19, 3:18 am
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
Anyone know of any of the 1-card-2-number products that are currently sold, like this one
https://1cm.hk.chinamobile.com/onlin....html?cid=1328
or this one
https://www.cuniq.com/hk/services-pl...ared-plan.html
(1) Can be purchased without a contract (so you'd pay a higher monthly fee but not be locked into paying that fee every single month)? and
(2) Can be suspended for a much smaller cost than paying for the service itself? Ideally, between HK$6 and HK$30 per month.
Not in your case.

While what you ask for is potentially possible, the problem is it does not seem you are a Hong Kong resident. All postpaid plans require a local proof of address, as well as a HKID. Based on your FT profile, it does not seem you have either.

(Note - FWIW - the U.S. has a similar logic that it is a big trouble when you want postpaid service without SSN.)

The easiest way - without the dual number SIM - is to get an actual Chinese SIM. They are available, at least in the Mainland. The problem is if you can communicate with them.
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Old May 4, 19, 3:32 am
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
Not in your case.

While what you ask for is potentially possible, the problem is it does not seem you are a Hong Kong resident. All postpaid plans require a local proof of address, as well as a HKID. Based on your FT profile, it does not seem you have either.

(Note - FWIW - the U.S. has a similar logic that it is a big trouble when you want postpaid service without SSN.)

The easiest way - without the dual number SIM - is to get an actual Chinese SIM. They are available, at least in the Mainland. The problem is if you can communicate with them.
Oh, getting a mainland SIM isn't an issue. That's actually easier for me to do. Using a VPN on mobile data is annoying though.

Alright, new idea. Even though they don't sell dual number prepaid SIM cards, is it possible to convert a HK number only cross border SIM into a dual number SIM by visiting a retail location in HK and asking for the relevant value added service (and possibly paying an additional administrative fee of HK$18/month)?
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Old May 4, 19, 3:41 am
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
Alright, new idea. Even though they don't sell dual number prepaid SIM cards, is it possible to convert a HK number only cross border SIM into a dual number SIM by visiting a retail location in HK and asking for the relevant value added service (and possibly paying an additional administrative fee of HK$18/month)?
Again - no.

The main reason for the discontinuation of the dual number SIM is the name authentication issue. This is why it is a feature that has been discontinued for prepaid cards, but not for postpaid services.
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Old May 4, 19, 5:27 am
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
Again - no.

The main reason for the discontinuation of the dual number SIM is the name authentication issue. This is why it is a feature that has been discontinued for prepaid cards, but not for postpaid services.
I currently do prepaid because adding money from Wechat is super easy, and honestly costs less than post paid these days. And, since I have to have a V for my computer anyway, this isn't such a big deal.
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Old May 4, 19, 5:42 am
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To be specific, the Mainland number on those cards does not work when there's a two-step SMS verification approach in which you reply to an SMS sent to your Mainland number. Some sites, like 12306, use this approach. Your reply SMS doesn't show your number in the right format.
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Old May 4, 19, 7:31 am
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Originally Posted by garykung View Post
Again - no.

The main reason for the discontinuation of the dual number SIM is the name authentication issue. This is why it is a feature that has been discontinued for prepaid cards, but not for postpaid services.
Yeah, although I would be willing to give them my passport to enable the mainland number.

Leave it to China to put useless laws on the books though. If one is going to place a bomb somewhere and detonate it by calling or sending an SMS to a SIM, one can just as easily do it with a foreign SIM that's doing int'l roaming. Or with an old fashioned timer.

Originally Posted by 889 View Post
To be specific, the Mainland number on those cards does not work when there's a two-step SMS verification approach in which you reply to an SMS sent to your Mainland number. Some sites, like 12306, use this approach. Your reply SMS doesn't show your number in the right format.
I don't understand. The only contents of a SMS message (its payload) are what you type on your phone which is up to 160 characters. Unless it's a long message in which case it's up to 918 characters broken into 153-character chunks. Are you saying that there's some metadata in there that won't be correct?

BTW, I've never encountered one of those types of portals before. I've only seen ones where you enter a number sent to you via SMS (most common) or authenticate via WeChat (less common). But yeah this is another thing I find very annoying. If people are going to have free WiFi for customers, they should just run an open AP like almost all Starbucks stores do (connect to "Google Starbucks" or "attwifi"). Maybe you have to connect to a captive portal and agree to some terms and conditions but there's not something that asks you to receive a text and enter its contents into a box. Only place I've ever NOT been able to use the WiFi at a Starbucks was one in Beijing, which had one of those damn portals that asked me for a +86 number!
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Old May 4, 19, 7:50 am
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To verify, you give your Chinese mobile number to 12306 as 1831123456 and 12306 sends an SMS to that number with a code. You then send that code back to 12306 in a reply SMS.

12306 expects a reply SMS with the code coming from mobile number 1831123456. But on those two-number cards, the reply number doesn't show as 1831123456. As I recall, it shows as +861831123456, and that's enough of a difference to make verification fail on 12306. (Or maybe the problem was, you can't pick the reply number when you send an SMS, and it always showed the HK number. This was a while ago.)

I went through this again and again at the time: the two-number card just doesn't work.
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Old May 4, 19, 10:59 am
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Originally Posted by 889 View Post
To verify, you give your Chinese mobile number to 12306 as 1831123456 and 12306 sends an SMS to that number with a code. You then send that code back to 12306 in a reply SMS.

12306 expects a reply SMS with the code coming from mobile number 1831123456. But on those two-number cards, the reply number doesn't show as 1831123456. As I recall, it shows as +861831123456, and that's enough of a difference to make verification fail on 12306. (Or maybe the problem was, you can't pick the reply number when you send an SMS, and it always showed the HK number. This was a while ago.)

I went through this again and again at the time: the two-number card just doesn't work.
Huh. Sounds like something to do with SMS special codes because the reply SMS number should ordinarily be the one you're sending from, isn't it?
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Old May 4, 19, 11:45 am
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
And, since I have to have a V for my computer anyway, this isn't such a big deal.
Well, the difference is that your computer doesn't run on battery power, and generally doesn't receive push messages that have to come in over the VPN. I noticed that when my phone hops from network to network in China, sometimes Exp fails to reconnect. Really strange because I hop between WLAN and LTE in the US all the time and I have never had Exp fail to reconnect before. Having a SIM card that doesn't require a VPN solves that problem entirely.
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Old May 4, 19, 4:16 pm
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
Well, the difference is that your computer doesn't run on battery power, and generally doesn't receive push messages that have to come in over the VPN. I noticed that when my phone hops from network to network in China, sometimes Exp fails to reconnect. Really strange because I hop between WLAN and LTE in the US all the time and I have never had Exp fail to reconnect before. Having a SIM card that doesn't require a VPN solves that problem entirely.
The recent Exp problems (which, have been resolved) taught me that it's possible to live here without a V. Of course, I still use it, but Baidu search isn't much worse than Google, and its maps are far better. As I mentioned in previous threads, my main problem is that my company uses Google Mail. However, I find that we use Wechat a lot more than email for both internal and external communication, and I can always go an hour or two without email.
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Old May 4, 19, 6:48 pm
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"Huh. Sounds like something to do with SMS special codes because the reply SMS number should ordinarily be the one you're sending from, isn't it?"

No. Think of it this way. Inward you have two numbers. But outward you have one, the HK number. it's not the same as having two SIMs, where you pick which SIM you're using.
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Old May 4, 19, 7:42 pm
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Originally Posted by STS-134 View Post
Leave it to China to put useless laws on the books though. If one is going to place a bomb somewhere and detonate it by calling or sending an SMS to a SIM, one can just as easily do it with a foreign SIM that's doing int'l roaming. Or with an old fashioned timer.
Contrary to your belief, this measure is not about preventing terrorism, but instead about controlling information flow.

This is also why FB is banned as well.
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