Internet in Germany

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.

 internet in germany providers

Hot to set up your internet connection in Germany

The market of internet in Germany is like in many countries an oligopoly where a few service providers are sharing between them most of the users. The overall quality of infrastructure is excellent and the level service users get for the average price is fairly good. Expect a 35€ bill on average for a broad-brand connection. Internet service providers in Germany all offer the same range of prices for equally good offers. Elements that will make a difference is often customer service and technical quality.

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 to all internet providers in Germany :

  1. Find the offer that you’d like to have
  2. Enter your address on their website to check for available speeds in your building
  3. Enter your personal information
  4. Wait for contract confirmation
  5. Receive your modems – Wifi Routers
  6. 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:

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.

 

22 Comments

  • Reply Matt 17/03/2017 at 11:37

    Another satisfied Telekom customer! They have blown off three appointments and the customer service is completely useless. All they are willing to do is schedule another appointment for a later day without any apology for waisting your time. I’m currently looking into canceling the process with them in favor of vodafone but am not particularly optimistic about any of these companies based on my experiences in Berlin.

  • Reply Finn Handelman 03/03/2017 at 12:23

    The best cellular data plan is from Aldi Talk. You purchase the sim for 12 euro, which has 10 euro of credit already preloaded. You can use that 10 euro for two gigabits of data, then 5 gb is 15 euro per 30 days. You can purchase the top ups at almost any store or spati, just ask for “e-plus” aufladen.

  • Reply Mary Ward-Lowery 11/01/2017 at 21:55

    My daughter has a Mac and is in Berlin for a couple of months. She bought a vodaphone r216 dongle which she thought would give her enough data for the whole period. But it’s run out after only a day or two. The dongle plus data cost 150€ altogether. Your advice would be very welcome – neither of us really understand what she has or what she needs!!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 13/01/2017 at 09:53

      Hello Mary. I can see on Vodafone’s website that plans attached to this device have a maximum of 6GB of data per month for the largest plan. This amount is very little for a normal consumption. After a day or two of playing Youtube videos, the speed will then probably be throttled. It can’t be used as a normal broadband plan if that was the idea for your daughter.

      • Reply Mary Ward-Lowery 14/01/2017 at 13:57

        Thankyou for your reply Bastien!

    • Reply Melu 13/01/2017 at 10:07

      Mary – Before moving to Germany for good we visited here many times and ran into this problem every time except for the first. We had rented a HotSpot with German SIM card from Cellular Abroad, promising unlimited internet, with speed cutting back only after a massive amount of data used. This massive amount lasted also only a day and after that we could not get online, it was so slow. We think that it was all the background stuff on the phone that accesses the internet constantly: Weather, news, GPS, automatically checking email etc, etc. Turning that off might help and essentially use the phone only for the most basic of things. But this is only an assumption…

      Another suggestion which might not be relevant to you but might help others: I had a smartphone contract in the U.S. with T-Mobile. About 3 or so years ago they changed their terms and conditions to where I could travel to Germany with my U.S. T-Mobile phone and truly have unlimited internet here. I never had problems, I was always reliably online (many other countries were included in this deal), experienced no speed reductions. The only thing I could not do for free was to use my phone for phone calls. That would have cost the usual 20+ cents per minute. I am not sure but think I heard other cellular providers in the U.S. followed suit. Maybe she can change her Verizon plan to have Germany included in such a way. Might be worth finding out….

      The other thing she could do in Germany is get a hotspot and a respective SIM card (I know that T-Mobile sells these in their stores but am sure others do, too). Careful though: Some plans are for a year or more but I know we were offered slightly more expensive plans by the month as well. I suggest a monthly minimum of 5 GB data regardless. Then the same approach applies as mentioned above: Turn everything off that might use automatic online access and only get online for a few minutes, don’t watch videos, listen to online music, etc. And keep a constant eye on your data usage. It is massively inconvenient but at least that would give her some controlled access.

      Hope this helps.

  • Reply Melu 02/01/2017 at 18:56

    Jessica, We had a similar experience when we moved to Berlin a little over a year ago. It took weeks, and several appointments, replacement devices and calls to finally be connected, both for internet and a landline. I cannot tell you how often I privately screamed with frustration. Hang in there, be persistent, and maybe get a German friend, neighbor or acquaintance to help you. Telekom historically has come out of what used to be Deutsche Bundespost, a wholly government-owned entity. If you are American, think USPS and you will have a much better picture of why Telekom is so bad. Good luck!

  • Reply Jessica Wright 02/01/2017 at 17:40

    Getting internet from T-Mobile, or Telekom, since arriving here has been a joke. I’m not sure why it’s listed as having better customer service. They never sent the router through the mail like they were supposed to and they showed up four days late to their appointment to set it up (of course, I wasn’t home!) Most of the stores do not have phone numbers to call and complain to, and the English-speaking hotline for questions literally never answers. I’m sorry, but I draw the line at waiting longer than one hour on hold. They admit they make mistakes but do not reimburse you or give you a credit for all the wasted data you have to use. I ordered internet a month ago in my home and literally, one month later, I am still waiting… with no internet to speak of!!!!!

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 02/01/2017 at 18:20

      Hey Jessica. Thanks for your message and leaving your feedback here. It’s good to know for other users that there can be disappointment with Telekom too.

  • Reply Hardik 11/11/2016 at 11:31

    Hey,
    I just have one small doubt. I have recently come to Darmstadt, Germany and am living with a German family as a tenant in their house. Now the house doesn’t have a phone line yet. I mean since the house was constructed, it hasn’t had a phone line connection. Can I still put up a wifi router somehow ? otherwise Could you tell me how to procure a new phone line. I could try to convince my landlords into it if it’s feasible enough.

    Cheers,
    Hardik

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 11/11/2016 at 12:48

      Hi Hardik. If there is no phone line to the house (which is honestly very surprising, maybe they are not aware there is one), the german internet provider you pick will get in touch with the construction & maintenance services of your city so a line is brought to the house. You don’t need to manage that part yourself but it might cost you a little bit more. It will also likely take an additional month or two.

  • Reply Chris 23/10/2016 at 21:29

    Is this info still valid? So is there no way to cancel contracts?

    • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 24/10/2016 at 10:00

      Hi there Chris.This info is still up-to-date yes. Concerning cancellation when moving back home away from Germany; you are in theory allowed by law to cancel your contract with a 3 months notice, provided the provider can not continue to give you a comparable service at the same price where you are moving. (Source) In practice, i have read around in forums that internet providers in Germany don’t let go so easily.

  • Reply Irene 04/09/2015 at 15:07

    Thanks a lot. That’s very helpful. We have the bank account, but it looks like the Anmeldebescheinigung will be a problem. I have been completely unable to set up the required appointment with a Bürgeramt. Going online for that results in no available appointments anywhere – every day. Oh well, that, too, shall pass. Thanks again!

    • Reply Ben 14/02/2017 at 14:09

      this is probably too late to be helpful, but you don’t need to schedule an appointment in advance at Burgeramt. Just show up. I’ve gotten the best service at Burgeramt Prenzlauer Berg, but I’ve also been to the one in Kreuzberg on Yorkstrasse with no appointment and no problem whatsoever.

      • Reply Bastien - Settle in Berlin 14/02/2017 at 18:37

        Hi Ben. It might be too late for Irene but it won’t be for all other visitors finding your comment relevant. 🙂

  • Reply Irene 04/09/2015 at 00:02

    Hi, Great advice, thank you!

    Was wondering though how long all this takes. We are actually moving to Berlin at the end of October and I am trying to figure out the practical ropes – where do I go (if anywhere, or just online?) to get internet, what documentation will I need, and how long will it take to get set up, i.e. be up and running.

    Thanks for any help you can provide!

    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 04/09/2015 at 09:43

      I would do everything online and everything could be up & running within 2 weeks provided you don’t need a technician to set up the line or the router. Documentation depends on the provider but you definitely need a German bank account. They will probably ask for a copy of an anmeldebescheinigung together with an ID as well.

  • Reply Constantin 15/07/2015 at 12:59

    Hi guys,

    Your website is awesome, useful and a great helping hand!

    Just wanted to let you know, the first link of the first tip, is dead.

    Kind regards!

    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 28/07/2015 at 11:24

      aaaaaand i stand corrected. Thanks for the hinweis.

  • Reply Dan 22/04/2013 at 14:54

    You wrote “If you are staying only for a semester or two, be careful to sign up for a 2 year contract,”

    Do you mean “If you are staying only for a semester or two, be careful NOT to sign up for a 2 year contract,”?

    • Reply settle_in_Berlin 28/04/2013 at 18:39

      Typo fixed ! Thanks 🙂

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