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Wireless Networking

Best Pre-Paid Data Plan For a Visit To Germany? 153

Posted by timothy
from the funken-arund dept.
code prole writes "With two upcoming trips to Germany, and no readily available Internet (Wi-Fi or otherwise) in the location where we'll be staying, I'm looking for a no-contract USB stick and pre-paid data plan. Vodafone has a huge selection of USB sticks but has proven to be unresponsive to questions about data plans. And the US-based T-Mobile Help Center was clueless about getting the device in Europe and using it there. Hopefully the Slashdot community has some suggestions. Any duds to avoid?"
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Best Pre-Paid Data Plan For a Visit To Germany?

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  • I recommend blau.de (Score:5, Informative)

    by pleumann (219030) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:06AM (#31449118)

    They have good pricing for telephony and internet access, and their website is easy to use.

    OMG - first post? :)

  • Blau (Score:2, Informative)

    by uigin (985341) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:08AM (#31449126) Homepage

    I find http://www.blau.de/ [www.blau.de] quite good. Aldi (http://www.aldi-nord.de/aldi_aldi_talk_95.html) are also good.

  • by ducomputergeek (595742) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:10AM (#31449132)

    If you're dead set on it, first place to visit after you land and go through customers is the Vodophone and T-Mobile store at the airport or at the main train station. I've used Vodophone for years when traveling in Germany. But I'm not sure what their data charges are as I've only gotten prepaid phones.

  • Re:Internet cafe's (Score:5, Informative)

    by uigin (985341) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:15AM (#31449162) Homepage

    Actually very few places in Germany have free Wifi. The going rate is €8 per hour! (If you are asking about it, they call it Wlan)

    I agree about waiting until you arrive though. I think you'll have a lot of problems buying before you travel unless you sign up for a special tourist phone network that costs an outrageous amount.

    Dave.

  • Peter from Germany (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:17AM (#31449164)

    Hi,

    There are only 4 WIFI networks in all of Germany, and all other service providers use one of these networks. Quality here is better than in the US as the population is more dense, and there are not many empty spots where reception just drops off. I have not heard of bad reception for WIFI here in Germany ever.

    Your best bet would be when you first arrive, in the hotel ask where the next MediaMarkt or Saturn is (they are like best buy) you can find prepaid stuff there. In German that would be.

    Wissen Sie wo ich ein Mediamarkt oder Saturn finden kann?

    There are also mobile phone shops from providers EVERYWHERE. Vodaphone has shops, O2 has shops, T-Mobile has shops. Just ask a local!

    Wissen Sie wo ich ein O2-Laden finden kann?

    und... das ist das! Tschüß!

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:26AM (#31449200)

    Nice thing about T-mobile is that if you have a locked phone on their network in the US, you can use a prepaid or regular sim by them over there in same phone. I have tried this and it works.

  • Fonic (Score:4, Informative)

    by stefanb (21140) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:27AM (#31449206) Homepage

    First T-Mobile USA has very little to do with T-Mobile Germany, except having the same owner. In fact, there's rumors that Deutsche Telekom wants to divest of T-Mobile USA, similarly to what the recently did in the UK. My experience has been that T-Mobile USA don't really care what's going on elsewhere in the world.

    Fonic [fonic.de] is a service brand of O2 Germany (owned by Telefonica), offering pay as you go prepaid services, both voice and data. Their data offering is 2.50 Euros per calendar day, for a maximum of 1 GB transfer volume. O2's UMTS network offers HSUPA with up to 3.6Mbps down, 384 kbps up. Their coverage tends to be concentrated in urban areas; rural areas might have no coverage. If you exceed the transfer volume, speed will be limited to 64kbps for that day. Adding credit to the account can be done through credit card, direct debit from a German bank account, or by purchasing vouchers available at many stores. The sell a USB data stick for 60 Euros.

    There's a couple more offerings, but most come with additional strings attached. With any offering, you technically will need a residency permit in the EU, with appropriate paperwork; some shops are less stringent than others. If you do have friends in Germany, have them order the package online in advance. You might want to get a seperate prepaid SIM for voice service as well, instead of international roaming.

    Finally, if you do have friends living in Germany, ask them if their DSL or cable provider has good deals on package extensions for mobile data options. For example, Alice [alice-dsl.de] offers up to ten SIM cards for free, and has a 6 Euro per month data option available. Billing would go to whomever is paying for the DSL/Cable.

    Finally, have fun!

  • by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdotNO@SPAMwarriors-shade.net> on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:33AM (#31449226)
    I spent a month in Germany not too long ago and i got both vodaphone and blau cards but i really preferred the blau card and this was on my blackberry, as if i would ever pay the crazy ass rates att wants, pfff. As a matter of fact I still have it in one of my spare phones (gave my number to some peoples while I was there)
  • by stefanb (21140) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:38AM (#31449236) Homepage

    I would only consider Vodafone and T-Mobile as your options, these two have established cell networks, all the others borrow on these networks and as such tend to be at the bottom of the traffic prioritization.

    Nonsense. There's four network operators in Germany: T-Mobile, Vodafone, E-Plus, and O2 Germany. While T-Mobile and Vodafone have a larger buildout (higher density, more towers in rural areas), E-Plus and O2 are not that far behind. I find that O2's network works really well in cities, with no noticable degradation compared to T-Mobile.

    All four operators have their own "value" brands, and there's a couple of MVNOs, and as far as I can tell, no priorisation is in effect for any user. If you do have coverage, chances are that you will have excellent throughput. Nothing like certain US operators...

  • some advice (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:42AM (#31449246)

    With two upcoming trips to Germany, and no readily available Internet (WiFi or otherwise) in the location where we'll be staying

    Some kind of youth hostel or camping site? Or maybe somewhere "far" (which isn't really possible - there wouldn't be a place where you could stay, unless you're bringing your own tent) from civilization? Then make sure you're getting either D1 (t-mobile, best option) or D2 (vodafone), or any D1/D2 reseller, all others don't have worse coverage (E+, O2).

    Be careful. There are two kind of plans available: Cheap web-only through proxy-only with all ports locked (sometimes including even free access to the reseller's own site - e.g. at least two TV-companies are offering such access), and real access. The price differs accordingly - between 2 EUR/day flat, or some EUR/MB.

    If you need it for anything else than http, make sure you're not getting something that's both expensive and to restricted for what you need it.

  • by poszi (698272) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:43AM (#31449252)
    Available here [prepaidgsm.net]. Some have decent data plans (30-month unlimited GPRS, first 5GB on HSDPA is available in O2). You will need an unlocked GSM phone and buy a SIM card in Germany.
  • by idji (984038) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:46AM (#31449268)
    simyo is 24c/MB so not cheap.
    Vodafone [vodafone.de] is no-contract, 19,99€ upfront and prepaid 15min/2h/24h/7days, where 7 days= 7,99€ for max 1GB
  • by Weezul (52464) on Friday March 12, 2010 @03:46AM (#31449272)

    Just check their frequencies :

    http://www.prepaidgsm.net/en/germany.html

  • by bemymonkey (1244086) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:05AM (#31449316)

    Or Tchibo. Similar pricing scheme (buy 1GB at a time and use it as you please... pretty cool) and on o2 (HSDPA coverage isn't bad, with downloads regularly hitting a constant 400-500KB/s).

  • by okock (701281) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:13AM (#31449352) Homepage

    +1: If you're within cities, it generally doesn't matter, which network you use. I've learnt that Vodafone and T-Mobile are the more expensive solutions and generally like to sell you sim-locked devices.

    I'm quite happy with a cheapo-solution, using a (non-sim-lock) stick and prepaid plan from "Aldi", one of the nation wide supermarket chains. Stick: ~50€, monthly flatrate: ~15€ (careful: if you've got enough money prepaid and not cancelled the monthly flatrate, it's automatically continued the next month) or ~2 or 3 € per day. They say to limit the speed from 5GB (monthly) or 1GB (daily) on. This is a resold "E-Plus" network access.

    Windows "wizard" software is provided on the stick. Access also works well with Ubuntu "Karmic Koala" (without the windows software, of course).

  • by weeeeed (675324) on Friday March 12, 2010 @04:18AM (#31449368) Journal

    Yeah, blau.de is pretty good. But you will need internet access and some basic german skills to activate the card on their website.

    100mb/30 days: EUR 3.90, activate by calling 1155 and pressing 8,1,4,1

    1Gb/30 days: EUR9.90, 1155 and press 8,1,2,1

    Unlimited/30 days: EUR19.90, dial 1155, press 8,1,3,1

    All plans auto-extend the next month, to disable dial 1155 and press 8,2,1

    APN: internet.eplus.de
    Username: blau
    Password: blau

  • by lennier1 (264730) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:34AM (#31449638)

    Great summary but please don't forget to mention that the "unlimited" plan contains 5GB per month at 3G speed.
    After that it's limited to GPRS. Same situation with the 1GB data plan. A common measure on many networks.

    Voice call minutes are deducted separately from the prepaid credits but blau actually has fairly good rates.

  • by Qbertino (265505) on Friday March 12, 2010 @05:39AM (#31449664)

    Join Fon [fon.com] if you can determine that there's a Fonspot near where you're staying or get your connectivity here in Germany. There are multiple Phoneshops in every street of every city and town here, the hassle will be much less than if you try to get german connectivity in the US. Most people speak usable english here, so you'll have no trouble negotiating in a Phoneshop.

    If Fon isn't an option I'd try and find out if there is a T-Mobile WiFi Hotspot near where you're staying (probably is) and get a Flatrate code for a month or so. T-M. Hotspot had that sort of thing a few years ago - you'd buy a card with a code which, once activated, you could use for a month. They probably still have simular offers - iirc you can purchase them directly at the T-Mobile webshop.

    Bottom line: If Fon isn't an option, don't worry and just come over here, you'll get your daily internet fix one way or the other.

  • aldi? (Score:2, Informative)

    by zzg (14390) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:08AM (#31449948)

    http://www.billiger-telefonieren.de/aldi-surfstick-flatrate-webstick/ [billiger-telefonieren.de]

    Sorry, link is in german, maybe babelfish will help out.

    I have the austrian "hofer" equivalent, which is a pure data prepaid. It seems to work slightly differently in germany, where it's an addition to a prepaid voice sim. I'd acctually prefer the german style, but oh well.

    I'd recommend combining it with a S60(or Maemo) Joikuspot compatible handset, that way you can use the voice part as well.

  • Try Aldi (Score:4, Informative)

    by seaton carew (593626) on Friday March 12, 2010 @07:20AM (#31449980)

    Cheap, no contract, available over the counter almost everywhere as a SIM only or including dongle:
    http://www.medionmobile.de/index3.htm [medionmobile.de]

    Enjoy the trip!

  • by egghat (73643) on Friday March 12, 2010 @10:41AM (#31451438) Homepage

    Blau.de is an ePlus reseller and ePlus is the slowest network in Germany. A lot of areas are still EDGE, many are normal speed UMTS (384kbit/s) and only a few are UMTS/3G. A kind of "official" reseller of eplus is called Simyo [simyo.de]. They offer 1 Gig data for € 9,95 valif for a month. If the gig is used up just buy a new card for 10 Euros. No plan whatsover.

    o2 is the second of the two smaller providers in Germany. Their coverage ist a bit worse than that of eplus, but in urban areas their network is usuallly faster. o2 has a prepaid plan as well called Fonic [fonic.de]. Their rate is 2,50 Euros per day. USB stick costs 60 Euros.

    Vodafone and T-Mobile are the two big providers and usually offer the best network coverage and best speed. But they are more expensive. A day with a maximum of 1 Gb costs 4,95 Euros (Vodafone Websessions [vodafone.de]) or 4,95 ;-) (T-Mobile Websessions [t-mobile.de]). Vodafone has 7 days with 1 Gb data for 9,95 as well.

    USB sticks should be no problem. If you buy one at the phone store you'll get them some Euros cheaper, but in most cases they will have a simlock, but you can go to an electronics store and buy one without a simlock. That should be the easiest part ...

    After a short check there are no pages in English on their websites (vodafone.nl has them).

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