Getting online in Berlin – setting up your own Internet connection

You know how they say that Germany is one of the most efficient countries in the world? Well, they have clearly never tried to get their Internet connection in a new flat in Germany. So just before you start, be aware: it takes time.

Do yourself a favour and read this before you get started. While we’d like to say that we can help you get connected quicker than high-speed fibre optics, we can’t. But we can prepare you for what lies ahead and explain how it will work so that you can get connected as fast as…well as fast as Deutsche Telekom will allow!

Internet Service Providers (ISP) in Berlin

There are a number of different Internet providers you can avail of in Berlin but the big hitters are:

  • 1&1
  • Telekom (Deutsche Telekom)
  • o2
  • Vodafone
  • PŸUR (former Tele Columbus)

Each company has a fairly similar range of prices and offers for bundles or packages depending what exactly it is you’re after. Straight up Internet? Need a landline, too (said no non-German ever)? Maybe even sort yourself out with a SIM card at the same time? Whatever it is, you won’t struggle to find a suitable combo.

That being said however, there a few little things you need to consider before signing on the dotted line. The first thing is to check whether or not the service you want is available in your building; it’s not always a given. It’s also a good idea to check if there’s a particular company that already provides for your entire building. It’s not uncommon and if there is, choosing them should make things a hell of a lot easier for you.

Websites like Check24 or Preisvergleich let you compare offers as well as checking if services are available in your area.

This one may sound like a no-brainer but read the contract. Yes, even the small print. If you can’t read those tiny German words then get someone who can to do it for you. Check the duration of the contract. Most of the cheaper deals will be 24 months so make sure it’s a good offer before signing up for a monthly payment for the next two years. There are contracts that you can cancel at any time but naturally these are more expensive and often have a 3-month notice period. Have a look for additional or hidden costs, like installation fees or a charge for the router, and factor those into the deal to see whether or not it really is that good a bargain.

It might not be a bad idea to have a looksee at any online reviews regarding customer service. It’s not something Berlin Internet providers are renowned for but hey, some may be less bad. One with an English support line may come in handy for those who are still struggling through A1 language classes.

Once you decide which company you’d like and pick the deal that suits you, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump until you’re basking in the glory of the World Wide Web! Just kidding. Unfortunately it isn’t quite that easy.

The reality of getting connected

Choosing an Internet provider isn’t the hard part. Getting your connection up and running is. The general line on how long you have to wait is 2-4 weeks, which isn’t great in the first place. The reality however, is often a lot longer.

The exact reasons why are contained in the darkest depths of Deutsche Telekom, hidden from the public, concealed behind often unhelpful customer services as thick as castle walls and guarded by the knights of the realm, the technicians.

Why does Telekom hold the key? Deutsche Telekom is the, now privatised, successor to the federal German government postal administration, Deutsche Bundespost. It owns the majority of the DSL infrastructure in the city (that means digital subscriber line or Internet for us commoners).

Okay, and? Well that means that no matter which company you chose to sign an Internet contract with, it will be a Telekom technician that will come to your building to open your line. The company you have signed with organise that for you, they make an appointment with Telekom on your behalf, but as Telekom has more than enough of their own customers, you’re likely to be lower down the list.

So if I sign up with Telekom will the wait be a lot shorter? Wishful thinking unfortunately, but hopefully it does mean that you won’t be quite so far down the list.

So that’s it?

The harsh reality of getting an Internet connection in your flat in Berlin is that you will have to wait and you are powerless to change that. The best advice is to get the ball rolling as soon as you can, sign up before you’ve even moved in if you can. Aside from that be patient, be zen, get to know your local coffee shops, and fill your free time with wholesome activities that aren’t Netflix.


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