Getting online in Germany using the mobile network

22 posts in this topic

Getting online in Germany using the mobile phone 3G network, for people only staying a few months!

 

This is not intended to be the definitive guide - just a few things I wish I'd known originally!

If you have a residential address that will be your official registered address in Germany for a year or two, then you have more options which are not covered here.

 

If you are in a hotel or similar, then use their Wifi ("wlan" pronounced "vay-lan") when possible; also if you have an internet provider "back home" with a partner agreement with Telekom.de, you may be able to log in to the Telekom.de Wifi hotspots that are in towns, cities and villages - this will give you a reasonable speed and amount of data.

 

Unless you have a cable connection or phone connection in residential accommodation, and are willing to commit to a one (or two!) year contract, it's unlikely that you will be able to get an 'unlimited data' contract.

 

Using the mobile (3G) phone networks, you will be limited to an allowance of a fixed number of megabytes or gigabytes over a weekly or monthly period - at full connection speed.

 

It should be noted that you will probably NOT be able to use Skype over this connection - all the operators appear to block this; however the Telekom.de Wifi hotspots and hotel Wifi do appear to allow Skype calls. (A VPN will let you get around this - another article !)

 

Once you have used that allowance (which I believe consists of sent AND received data) your connection speed for the rest of the period drops to GPRS speed which is 56 kilo bps rather than several mega bps. Once the period is up, you will probably only be able to see the network main website - not even the "add credit page" which seems odd!

 

However if you are primarily interested in only say, internet radio, Facebook status updates and email without vast attachments, then it's possible to manage at that speed - just don't expect to be able to instantly open a web page at the same time.

 

In this case you could just opt for a low cost 100MB option and take the speed hit when that amount runs out.

 

I am not intending to focus on running a mobile phone, rather, on providing a data connection for laptop or smartphone, but some of the issues such as registering a SIM are common.

 

Equipment)

What we are looking for is a device which will take a mobile phone SIM card and provide a network connection of some kind. I have not experimented with tablet/iPad type devices.

 

There are two main contenders:

 

USB 3G modem) also called 'USB mobile dongle' or similar.

This is a small USB device about the size of a chewing gum packet that plugs into the USB port of your laptop (or computer, or "3g router" - see below **) taking a activated SIM card.

You will find that the mobile network firms sell them in a package for a much lower price than just the device on its own. This is because the devices from the network firms are "SIM locked" meaning they are tied to that network.

 

I bought a non-SIM locked "XS Stick W21" (made by 4g-Systems.com) in a "Mobilcom Debitel" pack from Media Markt, meaning I would be able to use SIMs from different providers, in different countries.

 

This may need some "drivers" to be installed on your computer on first use, thereafter just plug in when required.

 

"Mifi"-type device) also called 'personal hotspot' or similar.

This is a device about the size of a bar of soap, which takes an activated SIM card, and provides a Wifi network connection via the mobile 3G network, within a range of a few tens of metres. If you travel around a lot, this device may well be more convenient.

Examples are from TP-Link (TP Link M5350 3G Mobile Wifi Device) or Huawei.

 

You will just connect to this device as any other Wifi network, once it's set up and working.

 

SIM Cards)

These are plastic chips about the size of a postage stamp that identify you to the mobile network ("Subscriber Identifier Module") and allow your connection.

 

They are cheap and easy to buy for prepaid use, but differences occur in registering.

If registering 'in person' at a shop you should take your passport and any other ID and address information.

If registering online, then you will require a street address (hotel, workplace, place you are known ?) and possibly a German telephone number (workplace, friendly colleague, your cheap German pay-as-you-go phone number ?)

 

Telekom.de: If you are unsure of things, then the best option is probably to go into a Telekom.de shop (pink T) and request a prepaid data-only SIM for monthly use. The staff will get you signed up for eg. the 500 MB monthly "Xtra Data Card" 'mit Laptop oder Tablet' and a credit amount sufficient to pay for the monthly option. The card will be active when you leave the shop, you choose the actual package the first time you go online.

Sadly that is the highest amount of data they offer. You can check amount you have left on the pass.telekom.de web page.

Good for getting started and letting you register online for other networks!

 

Congstar: Telekom.de's 'online only' brand - needs online registration, provides a higher monthly data limit than Telekom.de. Colleague said it was OK to register ...

 

Edeka: This supermarket sells prepaid SIM cards but your details go through a credit-check system so it's unlikely as a newcomer to the country without a residential address you will be recognised. Not recommended for that reason.

 

Blau.de: Best option of ones I have tried ... with hindsight!

These SIMs are displayed in BASE shops but the guy there said they only worked in phones.

So I went to the Norma supermarket and bought 1) blau.de "9 Cent" starter pack (narrow A4 envelope) 2) €15 top-up, which looks like a till receipt with a code number

 

Activating Blau.de SIM: (details all on the letter in German within Blau envelope)

1) open starter pack envelope, carefully break SIM out of card, keep card since it has code numbers!

2) you will need to go online for the next step - so use the office, Wifi or take a deep breath and enable data roaming on your phone just for this step

3) go to www.blau.de/freischalten

- type in your Blau mobile number (printed on the letter)

- type in the "Internet-password" (also on letter)

4) the next steps need your address and phone number as mentioned earlier

5) the final step asks how to pay - the first two options are credit card and direct debit, the last is by Prepayment - select Prepayment.

6) After completing this page the text says the SIM will be activated within 30 (?) minutes, so wait a few minutes longer!

7) You can add the top-up credit via text message (SMS) or online ... SMS is good since you can check your SIM is active at the same time, so if you are happy swapping SIMs...

8) Turn off your mobile phone, take out your current SIM, replace it with the Blau.de SIM, turn back on.

9) With any luck your SIM will now be active, your phone will register itself with the Blau mobile network and receive a couple of text messages from Blau.

10) Find the top-up till receipt and the 16-digit "Aufladecode", send the code number (on the Blau network) by SMS to the number 23000

11) This also needs time to be processed, but you can now at last go online with Blau!

12) Take your Blau SIM out of your phone, install it in your USB or "Mifi bar" as per the manufacturer's instructions, the PIN is printed on the plastic card which held the SIM.

13) Now on your laptop, verify you can see google.com or yahoo.com etc.

14) Go to www.blau.de, find the "customer login" at the top right of the page and use your Blau telephone number("Handynummer") and "Internet-Password" to log in.

15) You should be able to see amount of credit on the account on the right, it may not yet include the top-up amount.

16) Once the top-up shows, you will have enough to select the Internet-Flat-5G option (or a cheaper option should you wish, but it's only a few € less), so just confirm that option and once the text confirmation comes through you are ready!

 

17) Subsequently you will need to buy another top-up in a month's time to give you enough credit to once again select the required option.

 

18) Blau also gives you both some € credit if you recommend a friend who also signs up!

 

** The USB device can be plugged into a "3G router" to also provide a Wifi connection for laptops and smartphones, eg. TP Link TL-MR3420 or TL-MR3020

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Hey I wasn't being ungrateful for the compliment: sorry!

Just letting you know it was not literally my first post in TheLocal forums.

I was just aiming to inform.

 

Hope it's of use to someone.

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Only my first in .de!! There are other TheLocals you know!

 

Mike! As Tor says..what a post! Congratulations! Now, there´s another thread running here on Toytown on the advantages and disadvantages of being over 60! I belong to that age group! Now, I don´t understand much about your post. Probably only due to my ignorance!!

 

Just curious: should I need to understand it? I hope NOT!! :D

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Ah, don´t worry, Mike! Take it easy, no need to worry, everything fine and under control..no one´s sensitive here. Ok, answer my bloody question!!! :D

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OK: if you already have a home internet connection, then you probably don't need to understand it!

 

My post was for people who don't have a German residential address - here temporarily for work - and are not in a hotel with Wifi, but need some internet capability for their laptop and/or smartphone.

 

Without cable, a credit check or a two-year contract with Vodaphone, the only sensible option is therefore internet via the mobile phone 3G network.

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I have been using O2 for the longest its pre-paid I get 5gb a month on my phone and I never had a issue using it with Skype or even getting a show off the net 5gb for €25 or 7.5gb for €35 a month. I did not have a issue with them since I was mostly in major cities anyway for work. Congstar(a Telekom discounter)has 5gb data for 25 now also per month but you are on a D-netz.

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If you have an android phone, you can also tether your connection. I was initially using Telekom Xtra and Telekom was blocking tethering. So I had to install PdaNet on my laptop and phone to get internet working. I switched over to Lidl. Now I can use wifi tethering on my phone and there are no terms in the contract prohibiting VOIP either. The con is that it runs on O2 and sometimes the 3g signal is flaky. Is there an inexpensive provider running on Vodafone/Telekom who doesn't prohibit tethering?

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Hmm so O2 might be a contender if it does support Skype.

 

So the relevant points for me are then: availability of signal and ease of registration.

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i tried to search to make sure this wasn't mentioned already -   i grew up in Germany but before wifi was as readily available! i work in Manchester and go to visit parents in Ramstein twice a year. i use wifi readily in UK free wifi at work, college i teach at, home just all over. I just got back from Germany and got free Telecom wifi once, in a restaurant.. its getting better wifi in Germany but i just wondered what people are using. Cellular data, Mifi...

 

i am trying to find out the best connection to use when i go back for my iphone.

 

one last wifi question. My dad has a broadband connection to his computer, if he wanted wifi in the house is that extra or will he get an extra box? he has AFN cable and SKY freeview type thingy.

 

thank you and sorry if already answered.

danke sehr alle

 

kim:):huh:

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one last wifi question. My dad has a broadband connection to his computer, if he wanted wifi in the house is that extra or will he get an extra box? he has AFN cable and SKY freeview type thingy.

 

Eh...AFN and Sky are TV-related...nothing to to with computers really.  Any broadband router sold in the past 10 years will have wifi, although it may not be enabled by default. No extra costs involved there.

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Eh...AFN and Sky are TV-related...nothing to to with computers really.  Any broadband router sold in the past 10 years will have wifi, although it may not be enabled by default. No extra costs involved there.

Unless kabel deutschland are you provider in which case they charge a couple euros per month to activate the wifi on the provided router. The end user can not turn wifi on and off.

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Different but related renewal of this thread...

 

I am in the process of buying an apartment in Germany, which will only be used as a holiday property for ourselves and crashpad for when I work from time to time in Germany. 

 

Meanwhile, in the UK my mobile phone contract is expiring and I’ve seen a new offer which includes 100GB of data (including roaming, Brexit proof within or outside the EU) for a sensible price. 

 

Instead of getting a fixed line broadband contract in Germany, I’m therefore wondering whether to use only mobile data, plus to allow my family to use my mobile connection as a data hotspot.

 

The only thing that makes me wary about this is not the data volume, but the mobile data connection speed.  I visited the prospective apartment earlier this week but stupidly forgot to do a check using my existing phone (same network as the potential new contract). 

 

Is there a website where I can find the expected mobile network data speed for a specific town / address in Germany?

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On 10/18/2019, 1:18:38, altbobbins said:

Different but related renewal of this thread...

 

I am in the process of buying an apartment in Germany, which will only be used as a holiday property for ourselves and crashpad for when I work from time to time in Germany. 

 

Meanwhile, in the UK my mobile phone contract is expiring and I’ve seen a new offer which includes 100GB of data (including roaming, Brexit proof within or outside the EU) for a sensible price. 

 

Instead of getting a fixed line broadband contract in Germany, I’m therefore wondering whether to use only mobile data, plus to allow my family to use my mobile connection as a data hotspot.

 

The only thing that makes me wary about this is not the data volume, but the mobile data connection speed.  I visited the prospective apartment earlier this week but stupidly forgot to do a check using my existing phone (same network as the potential new contract). 

 

Is there a website where I can find the expected mobile network data speed for a specific town / address in Germany?

 

 

There are websites which allow you to see the coverage for the various providers, but this might not be helpful because:

 

  • For the major cities it will most likely show complete coverage for 4G/LTE, but doesn't show more details 
  • The connection speed depends on many factors such as distance from the tower, if you are inside or outside, and how thick the walls are ,if you are stationary or moving (and the speed of movement), the frequency used in this area (lower radio frequencies are better for penetrating walls, but tend to be used more in rural areas for greater distance) etc.
  • Connection speed might not be the main problem but congestion, especially in major cities during busy times.   With 4G/LTE then the more people connected to a specific spot then less throughput there is in this location.  So you might be connected with 100MB/s+ but not get much throughput, or you might not be able to connect at all.  (For example a colleague of mine complains about shitty Vodafone coverage at Frankfurt Hbf.  One of the major stations in Germany!)
    • This will be much better with 5G, but it is still a few years away yet from good coverage.
  • In such cases where congestion is a real problem, then operators might prioritise their own subscribers over Roaming subscribers (I see this when I go to a football match in the UK with my German phone and can't connect to any data network because there are 30k people within a very small area trying to do the same).
  • As you are roaming, you might not have any choice about the provider to use in Germany.  It depends on with whom your UK operator negotiates a contract with.  This is also subject to change without your knowledge.  So today they might connect to the operator with the best network in your area, but tomorrow they sign a new agreement and this changes to the operator which has the worst network in your area.

 

Now I'm not saying that it won't work.  If could be that it works perfectly 95% - 99% of the time in your apartment and you don't have an issue, and I would kind of expect it to be OK most of the time.  BUT, I am saying that any maps you find online will not help you determine this.  So you would need to try it yourself and see how it works for you.

 

As this is probably the least cost option then I would say try it.  If it is no good then you can always look at implementing something better in the future.

 

 

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Vodafone Germany is offering their mobile router which you can return after 30 days if it doesn´t meet your expectations (https://zuhauseplus.vodafone.de/gigacube5g/?icmp=home:modul3:2:gigacube5g). Maybe you could simply take the risk of keeping your existing provider and if it doesn´t work good enough go that route - at least for one month which would give you time to arrange for an alternative?

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