Handy und Internet
June 12, 2012 8:45 PM   Subscribe

Moving to Berlin from San Francisco in October, and I'd like some advice for finding both a cell phone plan and a broadband service for my apartment.

I've been able to find pieces of valuable information in previous posts, but nothing exactly answered my questions.

1. Handy: I'd like a plan that is fairly inexpensive for local calls and texting. The data plan is not too important, as I will mostly be using it for calls/texts, and for international calls I will use Skype on my computer. I'm currently considering blau.de (recommended by naturalog here), but am open to other suggestions. What would be a reliable, relatively cheap phone (perhaps €100-200?) that would work best with a plan like blau.de? Would it be cheaper to buy a phone here in the US, or wait until I am in Germany?

2. Internet: What is the best service for wireless broadband access in an apartment? Again, I'd prefer it be relatively inexpensive. It doesn't have to be extremely fast (streaming video is probably the most bandwidth-intense activity), but I'd pay extra to avoid a bandwidth cap (if those are common.) From what I've read this somewhat depends on the apartment building itself (which I'm still in the process of nailing down), but I would appreciate any general advice/recommendations.
posted by Yiggs to Computers & Internet (3 answers total)
Best answer: Blau.de is awesome, you can also manage the whole thing online really easily - plus throw in chrome auto translation and you can manage your phone plan without speaking German in the beginning. Also their deal on internet is pretty great to for a pay and go company, which means if you have a phone that's good for email and such it can be a life saver while you wait forever for the internet to be installed.

For a phone just have a look on amazon.de, it's almost always the cheapest place to find anything electronic in Germany. Anything phone without a contract on their will work, again in the 100-200 range you could get yourself a nice cheaper android model.

All of the internet service providers here are different shades of terrible. I was in a place that had Alice for sometime a year ago and they had sneaky bandwidth capping. On their website they don't mention it at all however I had the flu and was out for a few days watching Netflix and discovered that after x volume of bandwidth in a rolling period speeds would drop down to 128kbit... Since Netflix will automagically eat as much bandwidth as available, that can be a lot of usage fairly quickly.

Telekom don't cap at all but are band of vile crooks. They will lie to you about speeds and not care. I signed up for 50mbit in a building that could barely support 1mbit and they said everything would be fine, then they tried to charge for 50mbit service for a few months....

The best thing to do is going to be to ask your neighbours when you find a place and they'll tell you what they've found to best for the building, and 50/50 they'll also just give you their wifi password in the interim. Don't trust anything the ISP says.
posted by metsauce at 12:38 AM on June 13, 2012

You specified wireless Internet service; do you mean you want WiFi in your apartment, or that you want the broadband service delivered wirelessly? In San Francisco almost all of us get our broadband either via the Cable TV service (Comcast) or DSL over a phone line (AT&T). There's not much reason to go for wireless broadband in an SF apartment, but maybe I'm missing something.

My recommendation for broadband is to get DSL from sonic.net. They are a fantastic local ISP with excellent service and support. They cover pretty much all of San Francisco, although there's still a few parts of SF that are too far from the phone company equipment to get DSL at all. In that case Comcast cable Internet is your best bet.

I don't have advice for you on cell contracts; most of my friends have expensive iPhone plans that are $80/month. But I'm pretty sure it will be easier and cheaper to set up cell phone service once you are in the US. It's worth noting that our primary GSM provider in San Francisco, AT&T, has a terribly unreliable network that has not scaled to handle all the iPhone users in the city. I gave up and bought a CDMA+GSM iPhone to use with Verizon and it is much more reliable.
posted by Nelson at 7:42 AM on June 13, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for the response!

It sounds like blau.de is the best option, and I'll wait until I'm in Germany to pick up a phone.

As for the internet (sorry if that was unclear: I'm looking for a broadband connection like DSL/cable with a wireless router), it sounds like it can be a pain to find a good service. I'll do as you suggest and ask my neighbors for their recommendations.

(Thanks for the advice, Nelson, but I'm moving from San Francisco to Berlin :) )
posted by Yiggs at 8:56 AM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

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