Tschuss provided this useful information 7 years, 9 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).



6 years, 4 months ago

I have no idea if OPLAW11 or Bergman is correct on this.

What would be very helpful is a link to a website that has this information, or even better, a copy of a contract from a mobile carrier.

If there are any carriers that allow customers to signup for service, online, that would be just as good because a screen capture of the entire page would suffice.

Either way, I'm glad that you guys are keeping this civil (sorry for the pun). I belong to several forums where people just start slinging insults. It's nice to be involved with a great bunch of people.

6 years, 3 months ago

Quote by JOFTAA:

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.


Is 4G the same as LTE?
I live in Otterbach and I get BLAZING LTE speeds.. I ran a speedtest yesterday and my Down speed was almost 100Mbps, and 30+Up.

Definitely "shop around" before deciding. While in temp housing we got the Lebara sim cards and popped them in our Iphone 5S's and they worked fine, but signal was shoddy in some areas. The had a 5, 10,15 Euro plan (dependent on amount of data, I want to say it was 500mb, 1GB, 3GB)
Once we moved into our house and found that Telekom (Tmobile) was the only provider for high speed home internet we ended up getting a sweet deal for two Iphone 6s, 5GB of data each and an additional discount for having the home internet/phone. (We also ended up selling our Iphone 5S's on Bookoo for a great price!)

6 years, 3 months ago

Quote by Mistertmac:
Is 4G the same as LTE? .....


http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/4g-vs-lte/

6 years ago

Can anyone tell me if something like this exists. I am looking for a pre-paid plan that has 4g/lte data service on the Telekom network. Looking for 3 to 5 gigs a month.

Thanks.

6 years ago

Quote by Urahoho:
Can anyone tell me if something like this exists. I am looking for a pre-paid plan that has 4g/lte data service on the Telekom network. Looking for 3 to 5 gigs a month.

Thanks.


As far as the research I've done and all the people I've talked to, Telekom doesn't do LTE prepaid.

I think O2 and Vodafone do. I'm currently in the same boat trying to decide who to go with, testing various prepaid.

6 years ago

Quote by afakhori:
As far as the research I've done and all the people I've talked to, Telekom doesn't do LTE prepaid.

I think O2 and Vodafone do. I'm currently in the same boat trying to decide who to go with, testing various prepaid.


Are you in Germany now? How is Vodafone or o2 service around landstuhl or queidersbach?

6 years ago

Quote by Urahoho:
Are you in Germany now? How is Vodafone or o2 service around landstuhl or queidersbach?


I was in Krickenbach, which is just over the hill from Queidersbach. Service is spotty, no matter which service you have.

This is why pay as you go is best to start with. You find out which service works best for where you spend most of your time using a cell. Once you determine that, if you feel your usage is high enough, you go for a contract.

In the beginning, just stick with PAYG service.

6 years ago

Quote by JOFTAA:
I was in Krickenbach, which is just over the hill from Queidersbach. Service is spotty, no matter which service you have.

This is why pay as you go is best to start with. You find out which service works best for where you spend most of your time using a cell. Once you determine that, if you feel your usage is high enough, you go for a contract.

In the beginning, just stick with PAYG service.


so you are saying once i like a service I should go for a contract? you don't think it's wise to stay on prepaid?5g for 30 euros sounds pretty cheap to me for prepaid, what benefits does a contract get me?

6 years ago

Quote by Urahoho:
so you are saying once i like a service I should go for a contract? you don't think it's wise to stay on prepaid?5g for 30 euros sounds pretty cheap to me for prepaid, what benefits does a contract get me?


If pre-paid is less expensive, then stick with it. I only suggest a contract because it is less expensive than PAYG, most of time.

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