TV, internet and telecommunications
Phone, TV, internet
In Germany you are free to choose your own service provider, which means you can select the one whose services best meet your needs at your home address. However, that does not necessarily imply that every service provider is available in every location. Still, you can more or less assume that you will have access to the major providers – Deutsche Telekom, 1&1, Vodafone and O2 – as well as to regional ones such as MDCC here in Magdeburg.
Each service provider offers a range of tariffs for you to choose from, with a wide range of landline, TV and internet contracts as well as various combinations of the three. In exceptional cases, your landlord may have a preferred company you must use, or this will be specified in the rental agreement. If in doubt, ask your landlord. You can sign up online, by phone, or in person at a branch of your service provider.
Tip: Many service providers offer students and young people under the age of 28 particularly favourable terms. It may pay to find out which special tariffs are available to you.
If you have a phone contract abroad and are using your mobile or going online in Germany, you will often have to pay high roaming charges. So if you are going to be staying for a long time, it’s worth signing up to a mobile phone contract in Germany. Once again, you will be able to choose from a number of service providers such as Telekom, Vodafone, 1&1 and O2. Contracts can vary wildly in terms of what they cover, so it’s worth deciding precisely what your needs are before making a decision.
If you use your mobile exclusively to make phone calls, then a prepaid contract may be the best option. With this sort of contract, there are not usually any monthly charges to pay; instead, you have credit which you can top up using a phone card from the respective service provider. These are available from every discount shop or supermarket. The advantage is that you will only pay for the calls you actually make. On the downside, the cost will be that much higher if you make lots of calls.
The other alternative is a flat rate contract. In this case, you will pay the same amount every month, which allows you practically unlimited access to the mobile phone network and enables you to download a predetermined amount of data from the internet. But you should be cautious! Many mobile phone companies often apply special conditions to some contracts or exclude calls to certain mobile phone networks, so you should study the tariff you choose carefully to avoid accidentally running up excess charges.
Tip: Here too, nearly all service providers offer special terms to young people and students.
In collaboration with the City of Magdeburg, the local network provider MDCC operates several hotspots around the city where free Wi-Fi is available for a maximum of six hours per day.
Free Wi-Fi is also being made available at an increasing number of public locations.
Since 2020, staff and students at universities, academic and scientific institutions around the world have been able to access the protected Wi-Fi Eduroam network in Magdeburg. Particularly secure access to Eduroam is possible not only on campus, but also at ‘Otto hotspots’ elsewhere. At the same time, the entire university campus has now been equipped as an Otto hotspot, allowing all visitors free Wi-Fi access.
GEZ licence fee
The TV licence must be paid by anyone living in Germany for an extended period of time, which includes students and trainees who come here from abroad. Anyone arriving in the country must register online for the charge no later than one week after moving into their new home; failure to do so may result in them being charged substantial back payments and fines.
It is important to note that the fee is charged per residential unit, so if you are sharing with others only one resident will have to register and the amount due can be split up between all of the occupants. The licence fee is currently Euro 17.50 per month.
Additional information is available from https://www.rundfunkbeitrag.de/