Getting connected to the Internet in Germany is fairly easy, options include: dial-up, ISDN, DSL and cable. Bear in mind that it may take a while to get high-speed access, such as DSL, installed.
Most dial-up ISPs (Internet Service Providers) offer two types of access:
- a pay-as-you-go service, mainly on a per-minute basis
- a contract service where you pay a fixed amount per month for a limited acces (these start at around €15/month)
Note that there are no more flat rates available for dial-up access.
Both analogue and ISDN lines can be used to access the Internet by dial up. ISDN will offer you faster access at 64 kbps (or 128 kbps, if you use both lines at the same time). The monthly fee for an ISDN line is a little more expensive you will need a special ISDN modem. See our section on phone lines for further information.
Access rates vary considerably, so it is wise to shop around. Many providers do not even require any sign-up or commitment - simply calling a designated number to make the connection is enough. Typical cost is around €0.015/minute. As this includes the cost of the call it is actually less than a normal local call (it will thus cost more to access the Internet through a university or company server as the cost of the dial-in call will be higher). Fees for these services are automatically charged through your monthly telephone invoice. For a good comparison of internet plans and rates, go to www.billiger-surfen.de.
There are also full service providers such as AOL and T-Online. However, they normally charge monthly fixed rates and their software and extra-services may be of little extra use to non-German speakers.
High Speed Access (DSL)
If you wish to have a higher speed Internet connection you might want to get a DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) connection. This provides an Internet connection up to 30 times faster than a standard analogue service (up to 1536 kbps download and up to 256 kbps uploads).
DSL is an exchange-side upgrade to your phone line and usually requires no changes to cabling into your home (but may need additional computer cabling). You will have to add some extra costs to your phone bill though (as of Mar 2004):
- a one-off setup charge of €99.95 which Deutsche Telekom charges for switching your connection (independent of your DSL provider)
- an additional monthly charge of approximately €10 (depending on existing line type) charged by Deutsche Telekom
- a monthly fee from your ISP. This is around €25-€30 for a flat rate always on connection. There are cheaper tariffs for limited data volumes and/or limited online times.
Don't be misled by glossy advertising promising "DSL for only €10/month". This price will only include the ISPs own charges. The small print will tell you that you always have to pay addition Deutsche Telekom charges!
If you contract for a phone line (analogue or ISDN) at the same time as DSL, the DSL service will often arrive much later (up to one month). This delay is mostly due to Deutsche Telekom and thus independent of the access provider you choose.