As soon as you have just entered your brand new (empty) flat, there is only one thing you want to do, tell you all friend about it ! But how? You didn’t figured how to get internet in Germany yet, did you? You can’t mail your parents, nor your friends or that horrible aunt in Nevada. And how are you going to catch up on all those seasons of Games of Thrones/Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix? It’s time to figure this out.
Hot to set up your internet connection in Germany
The market of internet in Germany is like in many countries. It’s an oligopoly where a few service providers are sharing between them most of the users. The overall quality of infrastructure is however relatively poor for one of strongest powers in the world. Expect a 30€ bill on average for a broad-brand connection at about 16Mbits/s. Internet service providers in Germany all offer the same range of prices for comparable offers, with little disruption or competition between providers unfortunately. Elements that will make a difference is often customer service and line setup speed.
In general, don’t sign up for internet plans with bargains strongly advertised, they might come with strong drawbacks like a 2 year subscription or an undesired bundled package. One important thing to understand is the role of Deutsche Telekom in setting up your internet in Germany.
Deutsche Telekom was once owning the monopoly of the phone network, and in consequence of the infrastructure. The company is still responsible today for keeping most of the network up to date. That’s the reason why that even if you sign up for another company than Deutsche Telekom, the company will still actually physically set your internet connection up if the network is its responsibility. (and charge you 69€ for opening a new line !). However, more and more of the network is managed by other telecommunication companies.
The process is fairly similar for all internet providers in Germany :
- Find the offer that you’d like to have
- Enter your address on their website to check for available speeds in your building
- Enter your personal information
- Wait for contract confirmation
- Receive your modems – Wifi Routers
- Wait for technician to open your line (up to 14 days)
Fairly often, you will need to pay for a one-time fee corresponding to the price of the router or other equipment being provided, and fees for “processing your contract”to finally open your contract with a German internet provider.
Internet in Germany: the different service providers
Have a look a tip 1 to compare plans to know what’s best for you.
1&1: Currently offering on the best internet connection in Germany, 1&1 has also reasonable ranges of prices and steady network performance up to 50Mbits/sec. The router provided with any internet connection is also very good quality.
Their basic offer is 16Mbits/sec for 14,99€.
o2: Surely one the cheapest option around.I have heard a few complaints from acquaintances that it may not be the best customer service but you can get a good bundled deal if you are an o2 customer (o2 bought Alice out). Cheap options come with long term contract terms.
You can get a phone line and a 16Mbits/sec connection for 19,99€.
Telekom (Deutsche Telekom): The conventional/historical internet service provider in Germany running under the name T-home. It is often considered providing the best service quality and the best customer service. It is also a bit more costly to get internet in Germany through them.
The basic offer starts at 16Mbits/sec for 29,95€
Vodafone: The British company also offers internet in Germany with complete packages (Phone, TV and internet) starting as cheap as 27,90€. Its network is however not as extensive as the other service providers.
It also offers interesting packages with mobile plans for 29,95€
Generally expect a 2 weeks delay until the line is up and running. If you are staying only for a semester or two, be careful not to sign up for a 2 year contract, as most of the internet service providers in Germany try to make you do. In that case, you can also sign-up for a monthly contract that you can cancel monthly as well, for a 2-3€ extra-cost.
What if i’m only staying temporarily in Germany?
If you need internet in Germany for only a few weeks or a few months, you should look for the keyword “Ohne Mindestlaufzeit” or “Ohne Mindestvertragslaufzeit” when looking at the different offers. This translates to “no minimum duration”. It means that you don’t commit to a yearly contract and you can cancel your contract at anytime. There is a little trick though; usually the cancellation notice time is 3 months, so make sure to let your German internet provider know in good enough time.
If you are staying in country for under a month, the best solution might be to turn to prepaid SIM cards with generous data plans or so called”surf sticks” that let you know browse the internet via a USB dongle:
The state of the German internet infrastructure
I will make a deeper dive on this topic but in short; German telecom players and the government haven’t made the right investment decisions 20 years ago. When fiber optic had been identified as the next way to connect the country, Telekom pretty much stalled because of costs reasons, arguing that they could provide up to to 50 Mbit/s on old-fashion copper lines. The German government went with it and that’s why we have an noncompetitive, slow connection, ranking at 25th place worldwide, right behind Slovakia and Macau. Nowadays, fiber optics (if at all) is set-up until your district’s “verteiler” (distributor box), from where copper lines are starting to go into your building.
Even in the center of Berlin, the German capital, actual download speed is only up to 16Mbit/s, and i insist on the “up to”, because advertised speeds are most of the time not reached.
Tip 1: You might want to have a look at Preisvergleich.de or Check24 to compare all available plans for your location. This website allows you to get the cheapest plan for your needs. Just enter your postal code here or there to verify your DSL availability and pick a plan among the ones offered to have internet in Germany.
Tip 2: I have omitted numerous regional German internet service providers. They do offer competitive packages but be aware that you might not move your line in the case you are moving to another region or similar case.
Tip 3: You can use the very handy Youth HotSpot app that lists all the places where there is free Wifi until you set up your own internet connection in Germany. You can download the app on the PlayStore here and the AppStore here. Quite practical to start searching for flat or WGs. It’s edited by the Minister of Tourism, so it’s totally legit.
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