Whether you’re an expat settling down for a new job, a student gearing up for a semester abroad, or a long-term tourist exploring the country, having a stable internet service is crucial for daily life. But here’s the thing—choosing the right internet provider in Germany is often easier said than done.
That’s where this guide comes in. We aim to provide you with a comprehensive yet easy-to-follow breakdown of internet providers in Germany. We will cover everything from the types of internet services available to popular providers to the nitty-gritty of contracts and customer service.
- Internet services in Germany range from DSL to fiber optic, with varying speeds and costs.
- Before choosing a provider, consider factors like contract length, speed requirements, and whether customer service is available in English.
- Popular providers include Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone, and 1&1, each with its own set of plans and features.
- Expats and students may need to consider month-to-month contracts, English-speaking customer support, and possible deposit requirements due to a lack of German credit history.
- Setting up your internet connection involves choosing a plan, submitting documents, and possibly scheduling an installation.
- Customer support varies in availability, language options, and response time, so it’s crucial to know what to expect post-setup.
Types of Internet Services
The type of internet service you opt for can drastically impact your online experience—everything from browsing speed to reliability. Here, we’ll explore the various types of internet services you can avail of and what you can expect from each.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line)
DSL is one of the most commonly available types of internet in Germany, and it’s likely to be the first option you’ll come across.
DSL operates over telephone lines but doesn’t interfere with your phone service.
Generally offers speeds between 16 Mbps to 100 Mbps.
Widely available, even in rural areas.
- Extensive coverage
- Relatively inexpensive
- Variety of plans to suit different needs
- Slower speeds compared to other types like Fiber-optic
- May require a telephone landline, adding to costs
Cable internet is another popular choice, particularly if you’re looking for faster speeds than DSL.
Cable internet uses the same lines as your cable TV service.
Speeds can go up to 400 Mbps.
Mostly available in urban and suburban areas.
- Faster speeds compared to DSL
- Bundle options with cable TV often available
- May have limited availability in rural areas
- Potential for slower speeds during peak usage times
For the fastest and most reliable internet service, fiber-optic is the gold standard.
Utilizes light to transmit data over fiber-optic cables.
Speeds can exceed 1 Gbps.
Mostly in urban areas and some newly developed residential zones.
- Ultra-fast speeds
- Highly reliable connection
- Limited availability
- Often more expensive than DSL and Cable
Mobile Internet (4G, 5G)
If you’re always on the move or require an internet connection for a short period, mobile internet could be your go-to.
Internet provided through mobile networks.
Speed Range: Speed varies, but 4G typically offers up to 50 Mbps, while 5G can exceed 300 Mbps.
Almost everywhere, depending on your mobile provider’s coverage.
- Flexibility and portability
- Good for short-term use or as a backup
- Can be expensive for heavy use
- Speeds and availability depend on network coverage
Things to Consider Before Choosing
Selecting an internet provider isn’t just about finding the fastest speed available. There are several factors that you should weigh in on to make sure you’re getting the best deal and service for your unique needs. Here, we delve into some key considerations you should keep in mind before signing any contracts.
One of the first things you’ll notice when comparing internet packages is the advertised speed, usually measured in Megabits per second (Mbps). Consider what you’ll be using the internet for:
- Casual browsing and emails: 16-25 Mbps
- HD streaming and online gaming: 50-100 Mbps
- Multiple users or professional needs: 100 Mbps and above
Germany is known for its long-term contracts, which can stretch from 12 to 24 months. While these often come at a lower monthly rate, they could be an inconvenience if you’re in the country for a shorter period. Always check the contract length and if there are any penalties for early termination.
Customer Service Language
If you’re not fluent in German, you might prefer a provider that offers customer service in English. This is especially helpful if you run into any technical issues and need to troubleshoot.
The monthly rate isn’t the only expense you’ll incur. Look out for:
- Installation fees
- Cost of the router or modem
- Any service charges for technician visits
Some providers may offer a “free” router, but it’s often added to the monthly bill as a rental fee.
Popular Internet Providers in Germany
The next step is to familiarize yourself with the internet providers available in Germany. Each provider has its own set of offerings, pros, and cons. To make your decision-making process easier, we’ve highlighted some of the most popular ones below.
|Types of Service
|DSL, Fiber Optic
|DSL, Cable, Fiber
Deutsche Telekom is perhaps the most well-known provider in Germany, offering a range of DSL and fiber-optic packages.
- Extensive network coverage
- Reliable service
- Offers English customer support
- Tends to be pricier than competitors
- May require long-term contracts
Vodafone is a major player in the German internet market, offering DSL, cable, and mobile internet services.
- Competitive pricing
- Variety of bundle options, including TV and mobile
- High-speed cable and fiber-optic options
- Limited availability in some rural areas
- Customer service might not always be in English
1&1 offers a variety of internet services including DSL and fiber-optic, with an emphasis on flexibility.
- Month-to-month contract options
- Often includes free router
- Generally good customer service
- Speeds may vary by location
- Additional costs like installation fees can add up
O2 focuses on mobile internet but also offers DSL services, making it a good choice for those seeking short-term options.
- Flexible contract lengths
- Portable internet options
- Suitable for temporary stays
- Not ideal for heavy internet usage
- Speeds and service can be inconsistent
Unitymedia (now part of Vodafone)
Unitymedia, which has been integrated into Vodafone, is another key player in the cable internet market.
- High-speed internet options
- Bundle offers with TV services
- Usually faster installation times
- Limited to certain regions
- May have extra costs for the modem or installation
Related: Electronic Stores in Germany
To make life simpler and potentially save some money, you might be interested in bundle offers. These are packages that combine multiple services, such as internet, TV, and sometimes mobile phone plans, into a single monthly bill. Let’s explore what types of bundles you could consider.
Internet and TV Bundles
Many providers offer a package that combines internet and cable TV. This is particularly useful if you’re interested in accessing a variety of television channels along with your internet service.
What to Look For:
- Check the TV channels offered to see if they include ones that interest you.
- Confirm whether additional equipment like a TV box is included or if there are additional costs.
Internet and Mobile Phone Bundles
If you’re looking to consolidate your mobile phone and internet bills, this bundle might be for you. These packages usually come with a monthly allowance of mobile data, texts, and call minutes.
What to Look For:
- Ensure the mobile coverage is good in your area.
- Check if international calls or roaming are included, as these can be useful features for expats and long-term tourists.
Business Packages for Professionals
If you’re in Germany for work or run a home office, you might need more robust internet services. Business packages often include higher speeds, better customer service, and sometimes, additional features like a dedicated IP address.
What to Look For:
- Evaluate the level of customer service and whether they offer expedited support for business clients.
- Confirm if the package includes additional security features or cloud storage options.
Special Requirements for Expats and Students
While the basic steps for setting up internet service remain the same for everyone, expats and students often have unique circumstances that require special attention. Whether it’s navigating the language barrier or dealing with short-term stays, here’s what you should know to make the process as smooth as possible.
Required Documents for Subscription
When you’re signing up for an internet service, you’ll generally need to provide some form of identification and proof of residence. For foreigners, this usually means:
- Passport or ID card
- Registration certificate (Anmeldebestätigung)
- Bank account details for direct debit
Month-to-Month vs. Long-Term Contracts
As mentioned earlier, German internet contracts often run for 12 to 24 months. However, if you’re in the country for a shorter period, you might be interested in month-to-month options. Companies like 1&1 and O2 often offer more flexible contract lengths, albeit sometimes at higher monthly rates.
Providers Offering English Customer Service
Navigating customer service can be tricky when you’re not fluent in German. The good news is some providers like Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone offer customer service in English. Make sure to inquire about this feature if you’re not comfortable communicating in German.
No Credit History
If you’ve just moved to Germany, you might not have a credit history in the country, which some providers check. If that’s the case, you may need to pay a deposit or show proof of income to secure your subscription.
For students or others who may not require a long-term contract, consider looking into prepaid or pay-as-you-go options. These are often available for mobile internet services and provide the flexibility to add or remove data as needed.
How to Set Up Your Internet Connection
While the process can differ slightly depending on your chosen provider, here are some general steps to guide you through the setup.
Step 1: Choose Your Plan
Decide on the plan that best suits your speed requirements, budget, and any other special needs you may have. You can usually do this online, over the phone, or in-person at a provider’s retail location.
Step 2: Submit Necessary Documents
You’ll need to provide identification and possibly other documents to secure your subscription. Ensure you have all the required paperwork before you initiate the process to avoid any delays.
Step 3: Schedule an Installation (if necessary)
Some services may require a professional installation, especially if your residence doesn’t already have the required wiring or outlets. Schedule this appointment as soon as possible, as wait times can be lengthy depending on the provider and your location.
Step 4: Self-Installation
In some cases, particularly with DSL services, you might receive a ‘self-install kit’ which includes a router and step-by-step instructions for setting up your connection yourself. Follow the guide carefully, and don’t hesitate to contact customer service if you encounter any issues.
Step 5: Test Your Connection
Once everything is installed, it’s time to test your internet connection. Make sure you’re getting the speed you paid for by running a speed test through various online platforms available for this purpose.
Step 6: Contact Customer Service for Troubleshooting
If you encounter any issues with your service, whether it’s slower speeds or intermittent disconnections, contact your provider’s customer service. Make sure to have all relevant information handy, like your account number, to expedite the support process.
Customer Support and Aftercare
Once your internet connection is up and running, the interaction with your internet provider doesn’t end there. Inevitably, you may encounter issues that require you to engage with customer support. Understanding what to expect in terms of customer service and aftercare can help you deal with these challenges more effectively.
Availability of Support
Many providers have customer support available via multiple channels—phone, email, and sometimes even social media or chatbots. However, the hours during which you can reach them may vary. Some offer 24/7 support, while others operate only during business hours.
As we’ve touched upon before, the language in which customer support is offered can be a significant consideration for non-German speakers. Providers like Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone often offer customer support in English, but this is not a given across all companies.
When you encounter an issue that affects your service quality, how quickly the customer support team responds can be crucial. Some providers are faster than others in addressing complaints or technical issues, so it might be worth looking at customer reviews to gauge the general level of satisfaction with a provider’s response time.
Sometimes issues can’t be resolved remotely, and a technician needs to visit your home to fix the problem. In such cases, find out whether this service is free or if there are associated charges. Also, inquire about how soon a technician can come, as waiting times can vary.
Some providers offer extensive online resources, including FAQs, troubleshooting guides, and community forums where you can find solutions without directly contacting customer support. This can be a useful first step if you encounter common issues.
Can I get internet without a German bank account?
While most providers prefer a German bank account for direct debit payments, some do accept credit card payments or even cash payments at their retail locations. Check with the specific provider to see what options are available.
How long does it usually take to set up an internet connection?
The time to set up your internet can vary from immediately, for self-install options, to several weeks if a technician’s visit is required. Planning ahead is crucial, especially if you’re moving into a new place.
Do I need to buy a router or is it provided?
Most providers offer a router as part of their service package, often as a rented device included in your monthly bill. However, you also have the option to use your own router if it’s compatible with the service.
Can I change my plan later?
Generally, yes. However, upgrading or downgrading your plan can sometimes incur additional fees or extend your contract term. It’s best to clarify these details before making any changes to your plan.
What happens if I move within Germany?
Most providers allow you to transfer your internet service to a new address, although this might involve a contract extension or a relocation fee. Always notify your provider well in advance of your moving date to arrange the transfer.
Is unlimited data usage standard in Germany?
In most cases, fixed-line broadband plans offer unlimited data usage, but it’s always wise to confirm this when choosing a plan. Mobile internet plans, on the other hand, often come with data limits.
Are there any activation fees?
Some providers charge a one-time activation fee in addition to the monthly bill. Be sure to factor this into your budget when selecting a provider.