Moved into a new flat? Now you probably need Internet! Find here a regularly updated comparison tool for DSL & cable internet contracts, and some personal tips from me.
So I assume things went well for you, you’ve found a cheap apartment in Berlin’s crazy rental market, you’ve got also an electricity provider – and now you need the get the next step on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Internet!
Luckily, this is pretty easy, at least within city limits of Berlin (and other big German cities). And to get the best deal I recommend to this comparison tool by Check24* that is regularly updated.
Check24 is one of the biggest German comparison service: They compare not only Internet providers but also electricity and gas contracts for your home. And not only do they compare the various providers on the market – they often also have exclusive deals. So it can be cheaper to order a contract via Check24 than on the contract provider’s own website.
So, let’s finally start with comparing!
And below the table, I give you also some general hints and best practices for making a contract with a German internet provider.
(And if you just want a quick tl;dr: Take Vodafone. I’ve used them for years, they are pretty cheap and their customer service never disappointed me, even called me back on my mobile number after I had an issue.)
How to use the Check24 comparison and order form?
You can change the parameters in the form above and let the results recalculate.
To understand everything better, I’ve also made a video for the whole article. So either you can read about every step, from finding the best plan to ordering it, or just watch how it works.
What is my Area code?
The table is asking you for your (phone) area code. That’s the code that all landline numbers start with in your city. If you don’t know what that code is, simply check on this website by entering your city name or zip code. For Berlin, it is 030, which is the preset.
What Internet connection types are there?
The table offers contracts of 3 connection types:
- DSL (phone line)
- Cable (TV line)
- LTE (mobile)
The types are not so easy to see in the table.
DSL is the most often one: It uses your phone line. If the contract name in the table does not contain cable or mobile, it’s a DSL connection.
Cable comes via your cable TV line. Those offers contain the word “cable”. (And don’t get confused: Even if the offer contains TV service, it can come via DSL. 😉 )
LTE/mobile plans contain “mobile” and are quiet new on the market: They can be pretty useful if you’re moving a lot. But you need to make sure that you have good mobile reception at your place.
Which bandwidth should I select?
16 MBit/s sounds low but is probably fine if you want to surf the web and watch Youtube clips. I’ve had it for 2 years and could not complain, only the upload of my Youtube vids was too slow. So I’ve changed to 50MBit/s with 10MBit/s upload and that’s good now.
Note also that DSL is often limited anyway: In many areas, more than 50 MBit isn’t possible.
What’s the ideal contract term? Really 24 months? What if I move out before?
One big issue is often: “For how long should I commit to a provider? Really for 2 years? Maybe I’m moving out before.” So some people prefer a short-term contract, even if it means paying more.
If you have doubts about signing a 2-year contract, here’s what you should know:
In case you move to another place during that time, you are allowed by law to transfer your contract to your new place. And if the provider cannot offer its service at your new place (or if they can offer only a slower connection) then you have the right to cancel the contract before (German: Sonderkündigungsrecht).
This is why I’m fine with my 2-year term.
And in fact, most cheap offers are only available with a long-term contract.
Beware: (Wifi) Router often costs extra
If the offer doesn’t contain something like Router inclusive, then you either must
- rent a router from your provider (some 2 EUR/month extra)
- bring your own (compatible) router
What is a Cashback?
Many of the cheap offers come with a Cashback: This means that Check24 will pay you back some money after you’ve successfully ordered the contract. For that, you need to send your first monthly bill of your internet provider per mail to email@example.com. After checking that bill, they will transfer the Cashback money to your bank account.
After clicking continue
When you’ve found your favourite offer and want to order it, you should click on continue. You will be then redirected to the actual Check24 website.
Summarized contact details
On the first page, you will see the whole contract details summarized again: A table will list all the costs, separated by einmalig (one-time) and monatlich (monthly).
You will notice that the monthly costs are often higher than just seen in the table before. That’s because Check24 also factors in all the bonuses that you get:
- Basically, Check24 will list all the costs that will add up during the contract term (e.g. 24 months),
- then subtract all the bonuses and cashbacks,
- and that sum will be divided by 24 months. This will be your effective monthly rate (Effektivpreis).
Optionen (router, extras)
In the next step, you can add options. As already mentioned, a router is often not part of the package. So in case you don’t have your own, you need to rent one from your provider for a monthly fee. Look for a WLAN (=Wifi) router.
Ihr Anschluss / Wünsche (connection / extra wishes)
Here they first want to know:
- Art des Gebäudes: What type of building you are living in:
- Einfamilienhaus: single-family house
- Mehrfamilienhaus: apartment building (in Berlin: probably your house)
- Vorderhaus/Hinterhaus: front / rear building
- Etage: level
- Erdgeschoss: ground level
- 1. Etage: 1st level
- … (note that in Germany, the gound level is the 0th level, and counting starts only the first level above the ground)
- Wohnung (links, mitte, rechts): Apartment position (left, middle, right)
- Besteht ein laufender Vertrag?: Is there an existing (internet) contract (on your name)? In case you newly moved in, put Nein/No. If you put Ja/Yes, pick the name of your current provider.
- Anschlusstermin: Contract start date
- schnellstmöglich: as soon as possible
- Wunschtermin: custom date
Here’s some bad news: Starting a DSL contract can take up to 3 weeks because your provider often first needs to get back to the company owning the phone lines in your house.
- Einzelverbindungsnachweis: Itemized bill. This is mostly a privacy thingy: Here you pick whether all the numbers of the phone calls you’ll make via your new contract shall be listed on your invoices fully, shortened or not at all.
- kein: none
- verkürzt: shortened
- vollständig: full
If you pick fully or shortened, you need to acknowledge this with clicking the checkbox that all your flatmates in your apartment will know about this.
Kundendaten (address, payment details)
This starts with Anschlussadresse, so the address of your home that shall get Internet connection:
- E-Mail-Adresse: email address
- Anrede: salutation
- Geburtsdatum: birthdate (in day-month-year format)
- Handynummer für Rückfragen: mobile phone number for questions. Note that this must not start with +49! So a number like +49152123… should be typed in as 0152123..
- PLZ / Ort: Postal code, city
- Straße / Hausnr.: Street and house number. Note that street is actually an autocomplete box: You start typing but then available streets appear below, and you need to pick one of those.
- Diese Adresse auch als Lieferanschrift (für Hardware/Zubehör) nutzen: asks whether that address is also the one to send the hardware to. Leave it checked.
Next is Zahlungsdaten (payment details):
- Bankdaten (Kontonummer/BLZ, IBAN): Simply pick IBAN.
- Abweichender Kontoinhaber?: If the bank account belongs to someone else. Probably No.
- IBAN: Enter your IBAN account number. (It can be any European account in EUR. If you don’t have a German bank account yet, find here a free one.)
Your monthly payments will be automatically withdrawn from that bank account per direct debit (Lastschrift). If that sounds dangerous to you, then don’t be worried: It’s very normal in Germany, plus you usually have the right to undo such with withdrawals. Read more on Wikipedia about Lastschrift.
Having lived nearly all my life in Berlin at several places, here a some little tip that I also follow.
Before you order: Can you share?
Many internet connections never use their full bandwidth, so before you subscribe to you own contract paying maybe 20 EUR per month, you might consider finding a friendly neighbour who is willing to share his or her connection for maybe 10 EUR.
Yes, the disadvantage is that in case the connection is broken and they are on holidays you might be offline for a while – on the other hand you meet your neighbours.
Long-term: Cancel right after signing
A typical “trap” is often that customers sign a 2-year contract, then forget about it and then it gets automatically extended year after year (sometimes even with raising rates!). Often the cancellation periods are easy to miss as some providers require you to cancel even 3 months before the contract ends – and if you miss, you are tied for another year.
To avoid that, and especially if you are a forgetful person, cancel your long-term contract in advance, maybe even immediately after signing.
Don’t worry, now the provider will think about you when the contract is about to end, and make you nice offers to keep you as their customer.
No file sharing!
This one actually deserves its own article, but for now: Do not do any (torrent) file sharing! (At least not without a VPN connection.)
In the moment you send out some copyrighted material using your IP onto a file sharing network, the content owners (or their lawyers) can record your IP, go to your Internet provider, receive your address and send you a pesky Abmahnung, claiming some hundreds of Euros from you.
So make sure your Torrent clients are switched off, and also make your visiting friends aware of this before you share your WiFi data with them.
So, hope that helped – if you have more tips, feel free to add them in the comments!
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