Choosing a Provider

You’ve found your new home, and now it’s time to get connected (along with a few other tasks). To have a land line phone installed in Germany there are two basic options:

  1. You can go down to one of the local Telekom customer service centers in most larger cities and fill out the necessary forms. The basic installation charge is € 69.95 for phone and Internet. Who you buy the handset from is entirely your choice.
  2. You can order your phone services from one of the other telcos – such as 1&1, Vodafone, or Telefonica (02) and many others. Because Telekom still enjoys a monopoly on the so-called “last mile” of telecommunications service, these private resellers basically offer the same products as Telekom, but sometimes at better rates, or additional services. In addition, some of these providers offer bundled DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) and or VDSL (ultrafast DSL) connections.

The monthly rates for a land line in Germany start at € 20.95 for Telekom’s basic Call Start service. Many providers offer flat rates for calls to land lines or designated numbers abroad, but this often does not cover calls to cell phones or internationally as a whole.

Ordering your phone can be a quick process. The most popular types of lines are DSL or VSDL. DSL tends to be bundled with other services, using the pitch: “For just an extra € 5, you can get an Internet flat rate with your DSL line.” For the techies out there, this is called the “double play” (telephone & Internet connection), “triple play” (phone, Internet and television) or “quadruple play” (phone, Internet, television and cell phone service). DSL is also the most popular choice for Internet connections in Germany. The latest VDSL and fiberoptic lines get you Internet at speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s for downloading and 40 Mbit/s for uploading, and packages often include IP telephony and TV services.

If you want to buy the fastest package, first check to see whether it is available in your street. Again, private resellers (such as 1&1 or Vodafone) offer slightly better rates for Internet access. Remember to shop around before you sign up because many providers will waive initial set-up fees and throw in a free router or wireless LAN.

If your home is wired for cable, you can connect to the Internet through a cable modem and set up a land line using Hessen’s cable provider unitymedia Before you sign up for this service, be sure to check with your landlord or the facility manager to make sure that the building in which you live supports this service. Many older buildings from the 1950s and 1960s are wired for cable, but do not have the required infrastructure for unitymedia products.

If you can do without Internet access at home (or if your home is wired for cable), you might want to think about getting a flat rate for your cell phone and not getting a land line at all. For a monthly flat rate, you can call as much as you like into the German land line network and your service provider’s cell phone network. Prices start at €30 euros per month, with such a service being offered by several providers.

With all these options, make sure that you get all of your contracts in writing and read the fine print. And refrain from signing up for any services at a shopping mall or over the telephone. There is a good chance they will get your order wrong.