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. I personally use Vodafone as a cable internet provider in Berlin and they offer an acceptable price vs speed vs reliability ratio.
- 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 2021:
- 100MB download speed costs roughly between 35.- 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 22.- Euro (Pyur 20Mbit/s) per month.
All prices checked 28. February 2021.
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.
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. You can save money in the long term by buying the Wifi router yourself.
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?
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 is more or less reliable and we do not have many downtimes.
We use a Vodafone 16MB 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 fibreglass connections. They have their own grid.
I personally would go again with Vodafone as they are cheaper than Telekom and their reliability is ok. In my experience cable internet is faster to set up than DSL because you only have to deal with one company whereas much of the DSL infrastructure still involves the Telekom technician coming to your place (or not).
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.
Deutsche Glasfaser has 300MB/s to 1000MB/s highspeed internet tarifs starting at 25.- Euro per month for the first year. Click the "Verfübarkeit 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 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 45.- 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 28. February 2021.