How to get temporary broadband as a foreigner in Germany?
August 18, 2008 9:27 AM   Subscribe

Berlin / Germany internet installation: I might stay a few months in an apartment in Berlin, where there currently is no internet connection installed. What (if any) are my options?

I need broadband in my daily work, running to cafes might cut it for a few days but not for longer periods of time. I'm not German, but Norwegian.

Could I as a foreigner order a broadband (or other highspeed) connection, personally, for only a short period of time?

(My broadband experiences from France and Norway is several months from order to a functional installation, and the subscriptions run for 12 months minimum.)

I'm happy to hear any suggestions or experiences, thanks in advance.
posted by gmm to Travel & Transportation around Berlin, Germany (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I was in the same situation. Turns out almost everybody in Berlin has DSL and WiFi, so just ask a neighbour to share.

Alice offers DSL + fixed phone line on a monthly base without minimum duration, and they will install a week or two after ordering.
posted by willem at 9:48 AM on August 18, 2008

Best answer: There is a DSL company called Alice, that lets you quit anytime, as long as the contract is cancelled four weeks beforehand. Don't know how fast they'll be with installing. Apart from that, phone companies need proof you really live somewhere, and such proof will often be a bank statement with your address on it.

A more costly alternative could be: using your/a 3G-phone as a modem, on a prepaid SIM-card.

Don't know about any public WiFi-alternatives, yet I've stayed in other German university towns, where students and (guest) lecturers, could roam freely everywhere.
posted by ijsbrand at 9:52 AM on August 18, 2008

Best answer: 3rding Alice, they usually are quite reliable and their cheapest dsl flatrate (16mbit) is 24,90 Euro / month. 1-2 weeks quite is optimistic for a new dsl line, especially if there is an existing connection in the apartment from another provider, it might as well take up to 4-8 weeks or longer in the worst case.

You can check availability on their website if you know the adress and zip-code, it will give you a rough estimate at least. If you don't speak any German - click on the button that says "Bestellen" below the left plan on the homepage and stick to the red buttons on the following pages. Enter the zip code, on the next page select the street and enter the number and it should give you a page saying DSL is available (or not) and the estimated time it takes to install in weeks.
posted by starzero at 10:11 AM on August 18, 2008

Best answer: Ok, one problem I didn't think of: I just had a quick chat with their customer support and the guy said you *need* a German bank account to sign up with them, I think that's the same for (almost) all providers, credit card doesn't work (at least not for Alice).
posted by starzero at 10:17 AM on August 18, 2008

Best answer: I can fourth the Alice recommendation (they're the only provider I've found that doesn't require a contract and I've not really had any problems with them so far), but with two caveats:

1) They will want a German bank account to deduct the monthly payment from. In order to get a German bank account, you will likely need to have a residency registration (unless you can maybe swing something with Citibank), which in turn means a whole painful trip through German bureaucracy and that might not really be worth it just for a few months of internet access at home. Perhaps you can have a German friend sign you up for Alice for you with their bank account?
2) It took about about 4 weeks from signing up with Alice for me to receive the DSL modem and to have a fixed day when the Deutsche Telekom guy was scheduled to come to my flat and fiddle with the phone line. So you should plan well in advance.

I found Berlin to be absolutely terrible for free wifi, but you might well have some luck giving a neighbor €20 to let you share theirs.
posted by cmonkey at 10:32 AM on August 18, 2008

Best answer: I've also had a good experience with Alice. Yes, you need a German bank account but it only takes a half an hour visit to a local branch to set that up, and I don't think the trip to your local borough office (aka Bürgeramt) for a residency certificate will be all that bad. Just go early one day with your passport, your lease, and if you can (for bonus points) a piece of mail addressed to you at your place of residence.

Here's a list of the offices by Bezirke (borough):

I had a great experience with the people at the Deutsche Bank branch on Kottbusser Damm. Very kind and helpful, and they made a special effort to give me materials in English.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:55 AM on August 18, 2008

Oh, and in the meantime come join the rest of the Berlin freelancing universe in our "office" at Oberholz! Free wifi and the nicest atmosphere I've found in any internet cafe, stateside or here.
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 10:57 AM on August 18, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone, very helpful!

Asking neighbours and/or Alice looks good.. (perhaps except for the potential bank-account bureaucracy and uncertain installation time. I'll try the estimate function, starzero, thanks.)

Mobile access is an option, it's what I'm using in Norway now (HSDPA).

Perhaps I should start a second question, but if any of you know.. will I avoid the bank acc / citizenship issues when getting my own German SIM?
posted by gmm at 11:05 AM on August 18, 2008

AT&T offers LaptopConnect.
Supercharge your laptop when away from home
No need to search for Wi-Fi hotspots
Mobile broadband performance on AT&T's 3G BroadbandConnect network in more than 165 major metro areas
When outside of 3G BroadbandConnect coverage, you stay connected on AT&T national EDGE network
Covers domestic wireless data usage. International data usage charges vary.

Looks like you could use it in Germany. AT&T is global and has a presence in Germany. And yes, I work for them but I get no kickback for recommending this.
posted by shaarog at 11:48 AM on August 18, 2008

ePlus unlimited for 20 euro a month. Not very fast, but always there.
posted by ChabonJabon at 2:50 PM on August 18, 2008

You can cancel any subscription without any fees or waiting period if the company can't deliver the service any longer (§ 626 BGB) which is the case when you move abroad. So, you can just get a 12 or 24 month contract and cancel it when you leave Germany.
I prefer cable internet, it's usually cheaper and installation is really quick (I've been with 3 different cable internet providers, the longest I had to wait was about a week.) I'm with Kabeldeutschland at the moment and I'm happy with them.
posted by snownoid at 3:24 PM on August 18, 2008

By SIM you mean cell phone SIM card? It's no problem to buy a prepaid one without any papers. A contract one probably does, but for 2 months you wouldn't want that anyway.

BTW, in my experience, it was no problem at all to get the residence registration (Anmeldung). It takes about 10 minutes, all you need is some ID, the name of the person you are renting from, and the address. You get the registration right there and there isn't any kind of verification. You just have to already be living there, which means that the delay in getting DSL is probably impossible to avoid.
posted by cotterpin at 12:33 AM on August 19, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you so much everyone, every reply is helpful and informative, brilliant.

Thanks to Metafilter, ich werde internet im Deutschland haben.
posted by gmm at 1:18 AM on August 19, 2008

Damn it, foxy, now I really miss Oberholz! I used to live across the street on Brunnenstrasse.
posted by atomly at 11:37 AM on August 19, 2008

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