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Communications for Expats in Germany

Submitted: October 2013

TELEPHONE

When you arrive in Germany you will find a wide variety of phone and Internet options with many providers available. There are over 200 telecommunications providers in Germany. To see a full list visit: https://www.telefonanbieter.com/dsl-anbieter.html.  The largest telephone providers are T-Home and TKS (TelepostKabel-Service).

The easiest way to have a telephone line installed is to visit a T-Home shop, which can be found in most city centres; or by calling their customer service number (0800 330 1000). TKS can be contacted by telephone (01804 857 7627) or via their website: https://www.tkscable.com/ (in English).

To open up a new account you will need proof of address, proof of identification as well as your bank details. Activation can sometimes take up to 14 business days.

Billing – Do ensure that you request a fully itemised bill when you are signing up as this is not the default for German providers. Bills are sent monthly and are normally due within 7 business days. It is possible to pay phone bills by cash at any German post office or bank. The bank may charge a small fee. Alternatively, you might consider having your monthly bills automatically debited directly from your bank account.

Do note that your bills and any correspondence will be in German, so it is imperative that you are aware of the terms and conditions of your service agreement before signing. Most providers offer a minimum contract for two years with early cancellation. Be aware of this in order to avoid a binding, automatic contract extension.

INTERNET

Broadband -There are multiple high-speed DSL plans widely available, with fast download speeds. DSL is available at a flat rate and the required hardware includes an "Annex-B" DSL modem. Annex-A modems typically used in the UK will not be compatible. Visit https://dsl-germany.com/en/ for helpful tips on acquiring DSL internet in Germany. Some of the providers are:

Wireless Internet - Germany has many Internet cafes and thousands of wireless Internet "hotspots", many of them free-of-charge. Aside from airport terminals, hotspots are also available at hotels, bars and restaurants.

Dial-up - Dial-up Internet is still sometimes available, although very slow. However, if you are a light or infrequent user, it may be a viable option. All you need to get online is a telephone line, a 56K modem and an Internet access account. Plans are available with a monthly fee that includes a defined amount of minutes/ hours each month.

Do ensure that you check the terms and conditions and find out the costs for early cancellation for any plan you sign onto. Also, be on the look-out for plans that are flexible and ask for any English documentation to assist you.

MOBILE PHONES

When in Germany, you will come to know that mobile phones are commonly referred to as “Handys”. Like the UK, Germany operates on a GSM network; so when you move, your current mobile will probably work in Germany. The only thing you need to do is tohave your phone unlocked. If it is unlocked then you will just need a new SIM card. Below are thefour main mobile phone providers in Germany:

In addition to this, there are some other providers that sometimes offer better rates. This list is not exhaustive:

Most of the providers offer long-term contracts as well as pre-paid cards with varying conditions. Some providers also offer internet rates for your phone; as well as flat landline rates.
There are also some shops, e.g. The Phone House, that act as agents for different mobile providers and can give you advice on offers and comparisons between providers.Whatever you decide, ensure that you compare offers and contracts between providers to get the best plan that suits your specific needs.

TIPS

If you don't know a number in Germany you can get it on the web at www.teleauskunft.de. The directory service is also available in English by calling 11837 for domestic calls or 11834 for foreign calls. These calls are not free of charge.

Making calls back to the UK can be very expensive, instead of using your mobile or landline, consider purchasing international calling cards which are a cheaper alternative.

 

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