Why are internet speeds in Germany so terrible?
Telekom owns most of the internet infrastructure and made some bad decisions in the past like not investing in new glass fiber connections early enough. Usually the fiber cable only goes to a central place in the street and the last distance to the houses are covered with copper cables which have less bandwidth.
The German broadband internet market doesn't have a lot of competition. Telekom still has the majority share with more than 35%, followed by Vodafone and 1&1 source.
Types of internet connections in Germany
The most popular types of internet connections in Germany are:
- Glass fiber or Glasfaser. Fiber is fast but expensive. Have a look at Deutsche Glasfaser, Vodafone fiber, Telekom fiber or Pyur fiber plans. Deutsche Glasfaser has 300MB/s to 1000MB/s highspeed internet tarifs starting at 25.- Euro per month for the first year.
- Cable or Kabel. This is internet over a TV line. Vodafone is the biggest cable internet provider.
- DSL. The biggest DSL internet providers in Germany are Telekom, Vodafone, 1&1 and Pyur.
- LTE based internet via a SIM card, also sometimes called Surf stick, Homespot or Gigacube. See Congstar Homespot.
Internet providers in Germany often bundle internet access in packages with mobile or landline phone. Make sure to select a package without Festnetz if you do not need the landline phone and want to get a cheaper price.
Internet prices in Germany
These are some prices for German internet in 2022:
- 100MB download speed costs roughly between 40.- Euro (Vodafone Red Internet 100 DSL and 45.- Euro (Telekom Magenta Zuhause L) per month.
- 50MB download speed costs roughly between 30.- Euro (O2 my Home L) and 40.- Euro (Telekom Magenta Zuhause M) per month.
- 20MB download speed costs roughly between 14.- Euro (Eazy20) and 25.- Euro (Pyur 20Mbit/s) per month.
All prices checked 01. January 2022.
You get the cheapest price if you sign up for a 2 year minimum contract duration. This is called Mindestvertragslaufzeit. In this case you profit from a reduced monthly fee for the first 6 or 12 months. You can still pay monthly though. Internet contracts can move with you to a new address if the same provider is available at the new address.
Use Check24 to sign up with any of the internet providers above. Check24 automatically calculates the total costs for each contract in a very transparent way. An automatic online assistent sends you a notification when the contract runtime is over and helps you to switch to another cheaper contract.
What are the best wifi router options?
You can save some money by buying your own router. Internet providers usually offer you to lease the Wifi router for a couple of Euros per month. It's cheaper in the long term owning the Wifi router yourself.
I recommend a Fritz Box router from the German company AVM. The Fritz Box is compatible with most DSL, cable and fiber connections. You can setup your own router with a couple of clicks and there are tons of instructions on the web. On the downside internet providers have limited support if you are running your own router.
Many internet tariffs in Germany have a one time fee to set the line in place (Einrichtungsgebühr).
Contracts without Mindestvertragslaufzeit can usually be cancelled after three months but are more expensive.
What is the process to get the best price for internet in Germany?
I highly recommend to not order directly from the provider but to use Check24 instead. This has several advantages:
- You get the best price.
- The price Check24 displays includes all costs.
- Check24 makes it very easy to switch the contract once a cheaper offer is available. I recently used Check24 to switch internet providers and they automatically cancelled my old contract.
Follow these steps to get wifi into your home in Germany:
1. step: Enter your ZIP Code or city, street and house number in the form on the Check24 website to check availability and prices across a wide range of internet providers.
2. step: Set the filters on the results page in the left sidebar to your preferences:
- WLAN Router inkl. means that you are leasing the router from the internet provider for a small fee which is more expensive in the long run than buying one for yourself. Router models like the AVM Fritz!Box 4020 are compatible with all providers and lines.
- Make sure to uncheck Festnetz in the Gewünschte Flatrates box if you don't need landline phone.
- Laufzeit means the duration of your contract. A longer running times means you get some discounts but you cannot cancel the contract before the Laufzeit is up.
- Speed-Drosslung ab means that the internet connection will become very slow once a certain traffic threshold is reached. Select keine if you want unlimited traffic.
3. step: Select weiter zum Tarif to enter you personal data.
4. step: Receive the modem (and the Wifi router).
5. step: Wait for a technician to set the line in place for you. This can take up to 4 weeks.
Please note that there is the possibility that the technician does not show up on the agreed date for DSL lines which is super annoying if you waited all day at home. The reason is that many DSL connections still use the Telekom lines and the Telekom technicians are either too few or don't show up for other reasons. Vodafone cable (but not DSL) doesn't use Telekom lines so there might be less of an issue there.
Check24 guarantees that they get you online at the agreed date or offer you mobile internet temporarily instead. Check the 100% Funktioniert Garantie! badge next to each plan.
Which are the most reliable internet providers in Germany?
This is hard to say. Let me tell you about some of my experiences.
At my home in Berlin-Neukölln we use a Vodafone 50MB cable connection. Down and upload speed was more or less reliable until recently when we had outages for days. I am now changing to Telekom.
We use a Vodafone 25MB DSL line at a workshop I share with 2 other people in Berlin-Neukölln. The line goes offline a couple of times per year and the internet speed is definitely not great once more than one person goes online at the same time.
At work in Berlin-Mitte we use Telekom DSL. We had downtimes a couple of times per year when the entire block went offline for a day.
1&1 has mixed reviews. 1&1 uses Telekom lines. Please note that the reviews do not necessarily share the situation at your location. 1&1 reliability might be good where you live. 1&1 offers a 30 days money back guarantee source.
Deutsche Glasfaser seems to be decent option for fiberglass connections. They have their own grid.
Which internet providers offer the fastest internet in Germany?
According to this internet speed test, the fastest internet providers in Germany by speed at the time of writing are:
1. Unitymedia which is a cable provider and part of Vodafone
3. Vodafone DSL
This said, your internet options depend on what providers are available at your address. Use Check24 to find out.
Fiber / Glasfaser can be faster if you own the entire connection to your place. In that case you don't experience any slowdowns in the evening when the other people in your building go online and watch movies.
A 100MB cable or DSL connection is not necessarily faster than a 100MB connection if there are not many devices connected to your Wifi network. The 100MB speed are mostly not guaranteed by the provider. If the connection to your apartment block is overloaded, then you won't get the full speed with cable or DSL connections.
A fiber connection is not shared if it is a so called FTTH (fiber to the home) connection. Vodafone and Deutsche Glasfaser offer non shared fiber in some regions.
It seems like cable beats DSL in terms of speed in Germany source. The sitation is less clear which of the DSL providers is the fastest. Some say Vodafone source, some say Telekom is the fastest DSL provider source. Ask your neighbors what provider they are using as the quality of the providers infrastructure varies by region.
Deutsche Glasfaser has 300MB/s to 1000MB/s highspeed internet tarifs starting at 25.- Euro per month for the first year. Click the Verfügbarkeit prüfen button to check the availability on the Deutsche Glasfaser website.
Best ISPs in Germany where you can cancel anytime
- 1&1 offers DSL with a 3 months minimum contract running time.
- O2 has DSL plans with a 1 month minimum runtime.
You have to sign up for 1 or 2 years minimum with most other providers.
LTE options in Germany
LTE is mobile internet, the same you are probably using on your phone. LTE internet means that no technician is coming to your home so setup is rather painless. You receive a SIM card and a wifi router, that's it.
This is the same technique used for internet on your phone with the exception that the LTE spot is often tied to your address. You can usually request a location change in 24 hours. LTE internet is an option if you have to change addresses frequently.
The downside with LTE internet is that the data volume is limited per month. This means that internet stops working, becomes very slow or additional costs occur once you reach the data limit as defined in your contract. LTE might not be available in all areas.
- Congstar Homespot costs between 20.- Euro and 40.- Euro per month. The data volume is limited to 30GB, 100GR or 200GB per month.
- Vodafone Gigacube costs between 35.- Euro and 45.- Euro. Data limitations are between 150GB and 500GB. This offer has a minimum 2 year runtime.
All prices checked 07. January 2022.