Connected: Internet, telephone and TV
Most households in Berlin surf the Internet via DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). DSL connections are available throughout the Berlin metro area. The connection price and rates depend on the supplier and the duration of the contract. We recommend subscribing to a DSL flat rate – that way you can surf around the clock for a fixed price and avoid extra costs.
OUR TIP: Use an independent DSL portal to compare the conditions of different providers in advance.
Many providers offer a combined flat rate DSL and telephone subscription. The landline telephone flat rate includes unlimited calls to German landlines for a monthly flat rate. If you also want to call abroad from home at a flat rate, inquire about an appropriate offer before subscribing to a tariff. Many providers offer flat rates to the country of your choice.
Alternatively, you can use an Internet telephone service to reach your friends and family abroad. Internet telephone services are free of charge and the largest providers are Skype, FaceTime (Apple), sipgate and PURtel. Another option is call-by-call calling. CbC allows you to make a phone call from your connection by first dialing a so-called savings prefix. Use a search engine to search for the desired country and the terms “call-by-call” or “call-through.”
OUR TIP: Many DSL and telephony providers offer information and registration forms in multiple languages. Ask your provider.
Straight after arrival: Cell service and mobile internet
If you are new to Berlin and want to use your phone for calls or internet straight away, you can buy a SIM card in nearly all supermarkets, drug stores, electronics stores, and gas stations, which can be used immediately – a so-called pre-paid card (German: Prepaidkarte or Guthabenkarte). You can register this card either directly using your cellphone or online. In Germany, the law requires you to register your SIM card before you use it. Foreign addresses are generally not accepted. If you don’t yet have a fixed residence, then you can provide your name and a c/o address, or the address of the hotel you are staying at. On average, you will pay around nine cents per minute for calls and nine cents per SMS.
OUR TIP: The registration process is usually carried out in German. Ask a friend or colleague for help with registering your SIM card! Alternatively, you can use an online translation service.
Connected on the go: Mobile network operators in Berlin
There are now only three big mobile network operators in Berlin: Telefonica/O2, Telekom, and Vodafone. However, the three big players are split into around 50 smaller providers, such as congstar, Othello, ALDI Talk, Blauworld, FONIC, and many others. Nearly all operators offer both pre-paid cards and contracts with a base monthly fee. If you call and use the internet relatively frequently, an all-inclusive tariff (Pauschaltarif) with a flat rate is recommended. Infrequent users will probably be better off buying minutes or pre-paid cards. If you would like to make calls to your home country at a reasonable price, then ask for an EU roaming flat rate when creating your contract – this will give you unlimited calls abroad for a fixed price.
OUR TIP: See our guide “[Mobile Network Operator Overview” to compare prices!
Television in Berlin: mandatory license fees
Using a television or radio in a Berlin household requires that you pay broadcasting contributions to the broadcasting service. You must pay a monthly fee of 17.50 euros per household, regardless of the number of people living in the household. Once you have moved into your apartment or house, you must register for the broadcasting contribution.
There are several ways to receive TV in Berlin. Here are the main options at a glance:
You need an indoor or outdoor antenna. Please ask your landlord if your building has a roof antenna. You must then combine the antenna with a DVB-T decoder, which you can purchase in an electronics store.
Ask your landlord if your apartment has a cable connection. There are basic or connection fees as well as monthly subscription fees. The price of the fees depends on the cable provider.
You need a satellite antenna and a satellite receiver. You need your landlord’s consent to install the antenna. There are no monthly charges for satellite reception.
To ensure seamless television reception, you need a high-speed Internet connection. The cost of Internet TV depends on the provider.