Tschuss provided this useful information 6 years, 11 months ago:

Using Cell Phones and Tablets in Germany

Until recently, Americans relocating to Germany had very few affordable options for using a cell phone to make calls locally within Germany and back to the U.S. or for mobile data. Using a U.S. carrier such as Verizon or AT&T is not a viable option due to the high rates. Getting a local solution through one of the German carriers, while definitely better than roaming with a US carrier, is confusing, particularly in today's world when there are so many phones, plans and tablets available on the market. Ortel Mobile, a German company, focuses on the cellular and cellular data requirements of foreigners traveling and living in Germany. Through their relationship with Cellular Abroad, their US distributor, they are able to get the right products and services into the hands of travelers prior to their trip to Germany so they can use their phones and tablets right away. Since the array of different phones, tablets, laptops are as vast as one's personal needs, here is a bit of information that will hopefully shed some light on mobile phones and mobile connectivity while you are in Germany.

Smartphones

Most people in the U.S. have smartphones. Using a smartphone like the iPhone or a Samsung Galaxy is a great way not only to stay in touch, but with apps such as Google Translate, Google Maps, Skype, Viber, Whatsapp and Facebook, it is the perfect companion for the newcomer to Germany to see where you are, find out where you need to go and even communicate with the locals in their language. Many of you will already have a phone that works in Germany. The issue is that if you use Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint or AT&T, your phone bill will be hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per month. What you want to do is to swap out your current phone's SIM card (the SIM is the “brain” of the phone and is what gives it the service) and replace it with an Ortel SIM card. Most phones come “locked” to the carrier's network. Carriers lock their phones because they want you to use their service. Most of the time, you can get your cell phone unlocked by calling the carrier and requesting the unlock code. Sometimes they make you wait for several days so don't wait until the day before you are about to leave to ask them to unlock your phone.

Once your phone is unlocked, your phone can accept another SIM card. SIM cards now come in three sizes - standard, micro and nano. The iPhone 4 and 4s takes a micro SIM and the iPhone 5 a nano SIM. For the Samsung Galaxy or other smartphones, it is best you check online or the manual to see what size SIM it takes. If you get an Ortel SIM card, the standard SIM card has 8 Euros (about $10) of credit on it. The service is pay as you go and you do not have a contract to sign nor time commitments like most plans in the U.S. Considering that calls to the U.S. are less than a nickel and calls within Germany are about $0.12 per minute, that is a considerable amount of initial time. However, what you want to do is to get a data bundle and/or a talk time bundle, depending on what use need. If you need to mostly use data and call back to the U.S., then just a data bundle may be enough. You can use Skype to call back to the U.S. (even call cell phones), but it costs $0.025 per minute plus you will be using your data allocation. There are several data plans. A 10 Euro plan will get you 750mb of data, a 15 Euro plan a 3GB allotment of data and 20 Euros will get you a hefty 5GB of data. Each plan give you 30 days of data after which it will automatically renew and deduct the credit on your SIM, provided there is sufficient credit. Speaking of credit, you can purchase call credit anywhere where they sell vouchers for E-Plus. Even though the name of the company is Ortel, it is really just a sub brand of E-Plus, one of the largest carriers in Germany.

iPad and other Tablets

Many people have a tablet with which they use with WiFi. If you apartment already has WiFi, then you are set. If not, then hopefully your tablet has 3G capabilities which will allow you to use an Ortel SIM card with a data plan. The best data plan is the 5GB plan for 20 Euros per month. This is a great deal and even less than you would expect to pay for 5GB of data back home in the US. Unfortunately, not everyone's tablet has a slot for a SIM card. In this case, a great solution is to get a MiFi, also known as a mobile hotspot (more about that in the section below). If you want to use a tablet, you can use any of the plans. However, keep in mind that only that only Ortel's 5GB plan allows Skype. In addition, in order to activate the plan and to add a recharge voucher credit to your account, instead of the usual SMS method generally referred to in the instructions, you will need to call Ortel's hotline and make the request since you cannot text from your tablet unless you install an app. Yes, like almost everything else, there is an app for that as well.

How about Using my Laptop?

Most computers do not have 3G capabilities but luckily, most do have WiFi capabilities. As we all know, all we need is a WiFi hotspot and we can log on, whether it be at home, Starbucks, the library, etc. Germany is one of the most wired countries in Germany and there are WiFi networks available in many places. Having said that, nothing beats the convenience of having internet access wherever you want, whether it be at home or even sitting on a bench at the park. In addition, free WiFi doesn't mean secure WiFi, and on the contrary, if you plan on accessing websites such as your online bank, it is not a good idea to expose your details in a public setting (which is where APOVPN comes in).



5 years, 7 months ago

Quote by Bergman:
If it's data you need stay away from anything that uses the E-plus network or water it's called now. Got with an LTE provider....T-mobile has the best coverage followed by O2.


Quote by Betze4Ever:
E-Plus/BASE was acquired by O2 last year and their mobile networks finally merged as of mid-April, so users of E-Plus/Aldi Talk might find that they now have better coverage.

Telekom (T-Mobile) has very good LTE coverage in this area.


As I have mentioned before, it has a lot to do with where you are. I had absolutely no coverage of any kind with T-Mobile where I lived, and barely coverage with Vodafone. Aldi Talk gave me the best coverage for where I lived and did most of my driving.

This is why starting with pre-paid, no contract plans is the best way to go. You can figure out what is best for you, without a contract.

5 years, 7 months ago

Quote by JOFTAA:
As I have mentioned before, it has a lot to do with where you are. I had absolutely no coverage of any kind with T-Mobile where I lived, and barely coverage with Vodafone. Aldi Talk gave me the best coverage for where I lived and did most of my driving.

This is why starting with pre-paid, no contract plans is the best way to go. You can figure out what is best for you, without a contract.


I'm not sure why I'd be worried about data coverage at home. It's nice but, that's where wifi and the landline come into play.

Anyway, my coverage comment was based on the question of data coverage which is completely independent of phone coverage (on the new “3G +” networks). Yes E-Plus is very good when you need to talk to someone, but on Ramstein, Kleber, and Panzer and pretty much outside any city center coverage was non-existent for data but phone call were not an issue.

BTW - Telefónica (owner of O2) bought E-plus and then spun off into Base. Not sure who own who or what but E-plus is pretty much gone in the form you knew it.

5 years, 7 months ago

Found out a little more info. O2/E-Plus net merger *started* in mid-April and will not be completed until July - it's being done bit by bit. Best way to check (if you are on O2 or E-Plus or 3rd party affiliate) is to go to your mobile network settings and try to register your device on the "other" network (E-Plus/BASE for O2 customers and vice versa for E-Plus customers). If it's successful, then the cutover was accomplished. Wife has an E-Plus phone and it failed registering on O2 here in Miesenbach yesterday.

In related news, the 3rd party providers Simyo and Blau are going away; Fonic will stay on. No word on the others i.e. Aldi Talk.

5 years, 6 months ago

Quote by Betze4Ever:
Found out a little more info. O2/E-Plus net merger *started* in mid-April and will not be completed until July - it's being done bit by bit. Best way to check (if you are on O2 or E-Plus or 3rd party affiliate) is to go to your mobile network settings and try to register your device on the "other" network (E-Plus/BASE for O2 customers and vice versa for E-Plus customers). If it's successful, then the cutover was accomplished. Wife has an E-Plus phone and it failed registering on O2 here in Miesenbach yesterday.

In related news, the 3rd party providers Simyo and Blau are going away; Fonic will stay on. No word on the others i.e. Aldi Talk.


Looking to buy a couple prepaid SIMs while we decide what the best way to go is. Has there been any more developments on this?

5 years, 5 months ago

I've used Vodafone prepaid card for about a month before switching to TKS. TKS paired up with Cable will give you a discount of sort on your cable, which I could care less.

TKS service has gotten better than when I initially signed on, but still on Ramstein I have data coverage issues. I've heard of good things about Telekom/T-Mobile, so thinking about switching to them, as TKS phone plans can be cancelled on a day notice, versus cable is a month notice.

5 years, 5 months ago

Has anyone gotten a contract through 1&1 (or 1und1)? Seen the brochure at the Comm Shop and noticed they had some good deals. From my understanding is you choose the provider and receive better deals through them. Currently have a pre-paid Telekom/T-mobile sim that cuts off everywhere. Was thinking of going through them and switching to O2 or Vodafone. Thoughts anyone?

5 years, 5 months ago

Quote by Nichem:
Has anyone gotten a contract through 1&1 (or 1und1)? Seen the brochure at the Comm Shop and noticed they had some good deals. From my understanding is you choose the provider and receive better deals through them. Currently have a pre-paid Telekom/T-mobile sim that cuts off everywhere. Was thinking of going through them and switching to O2 or Vodafone. Thoughts anyone?


Keep using the pre-paid services until you find one that works for you. Depending on the service you are using, you'll have different dead zones. I had horrible service with T-Mobile where I lived and ended up with Vodafone. It wasn't perfect either, but was certainly better than T-Mobile. If you go for a contract before testing out the service, you may end up with a contract for service that doesn't work any better than what you already have. Once you find a pre-paid service that works, you can convert to a contract and save some money. This of course would depend on how much talking and data you use. For my family, we stuck with pre-paid the entire time we were in Germany, and between the four of us, we never spent more than 25€ a month. My wife was at work all day, and my kids were in school all day, so they never used their phone. I was mainly at home, so I had a land line to use. All I am saying is to weigh your options for what is best for you.

5 years, 5 months ago

You can cancel any new contract within 14 days without penalty.

5 years, 5 months ago

Quote by Bergman:
You can cancel any new contract within 14 days without penalty.


That may be true, but have you ever tried it? I ask because I made the mistake of listening to my sponsor when we arrived in Germany. We got T-Mobile because we were told they're the best. We were still at Vogelweh temporary housing (didn't know Hans at this point) and the service was OK. Once we got out of temporary housing, the service in our new neighborhood was horrible. We were only ten days into our contract, and I asked to get out of it. I didn't know there was a 14 day grace period. Regardless, it was a major fight to get out of the contract, and they were trying to jack up the fees for the phones we got when we signed the contract, etc.

That is why I recommend not getting a contract until you are sure the service will work where you are going to be permanently living.

Suppose you are in a TLY for 3 weeks after you sign a contract, and you got a phone (maybe 2) at some reduced, subsidized price because of the contract. You leave the TLY and find a house, only to move in and find out the cell service doesn't work. What do you do now?

Plus, it is far easier to deal with pay as you go service to experiment with different services. If you pay 10€ for pay as you go, and it doesn't work, you're only out 10€.

Here is a map that is supposed to show service for the different cell companies. The map showed great service for T-Mobile in the village I moved to, but reality was a different story.

5 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for the info. Went to Saturn and got another prepaid sim, this time O2 and signal was great at our new house. I will probably just stick with that sim and continue prepaid. At least if signal degrades, I can just leave and try another sim. Thanks joftaa.

5 years, 5 months ago

Quote by Nichem:
Thanks for the info. Went to Saturn and got another prepaid sim, this time O2 and signal was great at our new house. I will probably just stick with that sim and continue prepaid. At least if signal degrades, I can just leave and try another sim. Thanks joftaa.


Glad to help.

5 years, 5 months ago

Quote by Bergman:
You can cancel any new contract within 14 days without penalty.


PLEASE do not give contract law advice in general terms on the forums.

....I don't know if you are a German attorney, but you should be aware that the highest German courts have opined that even moving into a new home is not a basis for terminating a contract.

Lack of service is a limited defense when it comes to cellphones as the contracts are not written to guarantee they will work where you live.

German contract law also favors the other party when it comes to early termination.

The best advice I can give is that before you enter into any contract in Germany, see a German attorney at the Army Legal Assistance Office on Kleber.

5 years, 5 months ago

Quote by OPLAW11:
PLEASE do not give contract law advice in general terms on the forums.

....I don't know if you are a German attorney, but you should be aware that the highest German courts have opined that even moving into a new home is not a basis for terminating a contract.

Lack of service is a limited defense when it comes to cellphones as the contracts are not written to guarantee they will work where you live.

German contract law also favors the other party when it comes to early termination.

The best advice I can give is that before you enter into any contract in Germany, see a German attorney at the Army Legal Assistance Office on Kleber.


That was not general contract law advice. What I stated was in reference to a new cell phone contract.

In Germany, any new contract with a cell phone company can be cancelled within 14 days of signing up without a reason - this goes for internet and landline as well. This is protected by German law. After 14 days it depends on the contract and the carrier. The 14 days is a federally protected testing (or cooling off) period for the customer. Has nothing to do with giving contact law advice or needing to be an attorney.

5 years, 5 months ago

Quote by Bergman:
That was not general contract law advice. What I stated was in reference to a new cell phone contract.

In Germany, any new contract with a cell phone company can be cancelled within 14 days of signing up without a reason - this goes for internet and landline as well. This is protected by German law. After 14 days it depends on the contract and the carrier. The 14 days is a federally protected testing (or cooling off) period for the customer. Has nothing to do with giving contact law advice or needing to be an attorney.


Again, unless you are an attorney and have the contract in hand, don't assert a federal law on clauses that you have not reviewed. That is bad legal advice, even from an attorney. Nuff said.

I know of no German federal law that rules in favor of the consumer, providing a blanket 14-days "cancellation period" that you are claiming.

But, if you do have that cite...would you please provide that to us. This knowledge should be shared as I'm sure it would be received with open-arms.

Danke!

5 years, 5 months ago

Quote by OPLAW11:
Again, unless you are an attorney and have the contract in hand, don't assert a federal law on clauses that you have not reviewed. That is bad legal advice, even from an attorney. Nuff said.

I know of no German federal law that rules in favor of the consumer, providing a blanket 14-days "cancellation period" that you are claiming.

But, if you do have that cite...would you please provide that to us. This knowledge should be shared as I'm sure it would be received with open-arms.

Danke!


Das Bürgerliche Gesetzbuch (BGB) gewährt aus Gründen des Verbraucherschutzes einem privaten Käufer (Verbraucher) gegenüber einem gewerblich tätigen Verkäufer (Unternehmer) bei speziellen Vertragsarten ein Widerrufsrecht. Dieses in § 355 BGB geregelte Widerrufsrecht gewährt jedem Verbraucher das Recht, sich unter bestimmten Umständen von einem bereits geschlossenen, aber noch schwebend unwirksamen Vertrag innerhalb gesetzlicher Fristen durch Erklärung des Widerrufs zu lösen.

Paragraph of the law cited above.

The following is the "fine print" the carrier is required to have and says that you can cancel within 14 days without cause and goes on to cite additional laws and requirements. Again this is a federally required law and covers all contracts pertaining to telecommunications.

Sie können Ihre Vertragserklärungen innerhalb von 14 Tagen ohne Angabe von Gründen in Text- form (z. B. Brief, Fax, E-Mail) widerrufen. Den Kauf eines Endgerätes können Sie – wenn Ihnen die Sache vor Fristablauf überlassen wird – auch durch Rücksendung der Sache widerrufen. Die Frist beginnt frühestens mit Erhalt dieser Belehrung in Textform bzgl. der Erbringung von Dienstleis- tungen jedoch nicht vor Vertragsschluss, bzgl. der Lieferung von Waren jedoch nicht vor Eingang der Ware beim Empfänger und auch nicht vor Erfüllung unserer Informationspflichten gemäß Artikel 246 § 2 in Verbindung mit § 1 Abs. 1 und 2 EGBGB sowie unserer Pflichten gemäß § 312g Abs. 1 Satz 1 BGB in Verbindung mit Artikel 246 § 3 EGBGB. Zur Wahrung der Widerrufsfrist genügt die rechtzeitige Absendung des Widerrufs oder der Sache.

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