Internet plans and connections in Germany

Connecting to the internet in Germany
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Updated 2022-11-04 06:57

Staying connected in Germany is easy thanks to its advanced telecommunications network and the widely available access to the internet. Nevertheless, Germany ranks 44th in the world, with the median broadband download speed at 69.52 Mbps, which can be interpreted as slow, considering that Monaco's is 192.68 Mbps — the fastest in the world. In addition to the slow internet, most public WiFi networks are under strong regulations, so we would advise you to not rely on free internet access, but secure internet on your personal mobile device via a 4G or 5G provider.

Types of internet connection in Germany

The most common type of broadband connection in Germany is ADSL. However, in rural areas, in particular, ADSL might be of lower quality and users can experience that their speed is dragging. The good news is that during the pandemic, as the demand for modernized digital infrastructure became prevalent, Germany realized that digital infrastructure is a prerequisite for innovation and forward-looking business practices. Hence, in January of 2021, telecommunication companies Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica/O2 announced their initiative to close several hundred grey spots in 4G network coverage in remote areas Germany, where 4G network coverage is uneven. In other words, Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica/O2 will offer customers 4G access on the 800 MHz frequency band in areas where smaller operators find it challenging to build and operate infrastructures. 

Good to know: 

VDSL (High-speed digital subscriber line) with optic fiber (data is transmitted at the speed of light) is mostly available in large cities.

Network operators in Germany

When choosing an internet provider, make sure you know for how long you will need to maintain the subscription. Some networks offer promotional packages which, however, come with binding contracts for a minimum of two years. Hence, if you are planning to live in Germany for a shorter time and need internet, check for Ohne Mindertlaufzeit which means no minimum duration. Otherwise, you can also get a portable WiFi router. It is important to remember that when receiving a router, it often remains the property of the internet provider and you may have to send it back when changing provider or move houses later on. 

Some of the major and most widely available internet providers in Germany are outlined below. In general, these are large telecommunications companies that offer internet connections, as well as tv, phone, and mobile internet services, which, if combined in a package, can help you get good value for your money. 

  • 1&1 has the best internet connection in Germany and a wide range of reasonable packages and offers.
  • O2 is one of the cheapest options. The downside is that it requires long-term customer commitment.
  • Deutsche Telekom offers the best customer service, which comes at the costliest price.
  • Vodafone offers complete and affordable packages.

Connection speed mostly depends on the distance of the end-user from the nearest distributor, and, therefore, the full promised and advertised speeds may not always be reached. It's best to consult various comparison sites and ask your neighbors and colleagues which provider they use. Most likely, they will have already gone through the ordeal of finding the best and most reliable solution, and they will be able to share their insights with you. Overall, different areas experience different speeds, and modern buildings offer faster speeds than old housing. While urban residents benefit from all the options, the selection is much more limited for the rural population. Basic offers start at around €30 per month (DSL) and may vary depending on your region. Often, tenants have to compromise with the internet connection chosen by the owner of the house, so make sure you speak with them about any issues you may experience, especially if the cost of the internet is included in your rental. 

Attention: 

Just like everywhere in the EU, downloading content from pirated websites is considered illegal. Be careful, especially if you download torrents in your country, as you will risk getting a fine.

Getting connected in Germany

If you already have a telephone line, internet connection procedures should not take long. Otherwise, just visit any branch of your preferred internet service provider with your identification documents and proof of address. Fees may apply, and depending on the operator, it may take up to two weeks to be connected. If you also subscribe to tv, you need to register at GEZ for a broadcasting license. Similarly, before you leave the country, you must cancel your license. By law, every household is obliged to pay a fee for public radio (whether you use it or not) and an additional fee for using the tv. The main criterion for the charges is owning a tv (and if not, you will have to prove otherwise), and fines apply for those not complying. Note that clerks may pay you a random visit during spot checks.

Free WiFi in Germany

Free WiFi (or WLAN in German) can still be difficult to find. Until recently, the WiFi operator risked being liable if a user committed an offense such as downloading music illegally, which prevented most coffee shops and restaurants from offering free WiFi to their customers. Most bus and train stations, as well as restaurants, pubs, or airports, offer internet access through “hotspots” (marked with a blue icon), but you have to pay for internet usage that exceeds 30 minutes.  

Good to know: 

To log into WiFi hotspots of Deutsche Bahn, activate the WiFi option on your device (smartphone or tablet), choose the Telekom network, open your browser and enter your mobile phone number on the home page. An access code will be sent to you via SMS. You can then enter the code and enjoy 30 minutes of free WiFi. For more information, visit the Bahn website. 

Useful links:

Deutsche Telekom

Vodafone

O2

Deutsche Bahn

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.