Wifi Around China: Starbucks Capital Times Square

The Starbucks inside Capital Times Square is minimalist, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Just inside the back entrance of the Beijing Capital Times Square is this Starbucks, which apparently manages to place itself in harmony with this huge escalator that nearly splits the thing into two.

Were it not for the fact that the back entrance (closer by a hutong instead of the massive Chang’an Avenue) were not a semi-indoors thing, you can actually come real close to nature. Its massive windows are a delight — your tech blogger actually spent close to a year working at a city museum where the amount of light in the museum offices was close to jailhouse standards. No surprise, then, that this Starbucks wins in terms of prime position and in terms of a good aura.

Sadly, this Starbucks is a mere flower vase, wifi-wise. There’s no password to get you online, but that means that others encroach on the freedom as well. Getting a VPN to work on the network is impossible (you have to help yourself to other wifi hotspots nearby — offer good only as long as it’s valid!) or you have to get yourself a China Netcom card, which can easily suck out a whole day’s work for just an hour online. (Talk about “serving the people”!) Even without resorting to reading “reactionary propaganda” in officialspeak (by using a VPN, for instance), getting online and getting some real work done is an exercise in futility.

Wifi: Free; no password needed
Signal: Good signal; poor Internet access
VPN support: Very poor
Transit links: Subway Lines 1 or 4 to Xidan; exit at Line 1 exit E or Line 4 exit G closest. Line 1 riders can head straight into the Capital Times Square using an all-underground passageway; Line 4 users must first interchange to Line 1.

Starbucks Capital Times Square
Ground (1st) floor
Off Chang’an Avenue and Xuanwumen Inner Street; Xicheng, Beijing, China

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