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Monopoly on telecoms in Germany is an old story. The national champion Deutsche Telekom was privatised and reinvented. Mobile development ensued a marketplace developed and Vodafone bought in. The third big player is Telefónica with its still running E-Plus and O2 brands. A cable network was added to the mix, now belonging to Vodafone. In most cases, properties are able to be connected by the fourth major option, Unity Media. Numerous sub-brands and others exist, including 1&1 and supermarkets.

All offer the full mix of packages with broadband, landline, Festnetz, mobile, Mobil, and TV, including Netflix etcetera. Download speeds vary enormously, uploads can still be a joke.

Fortunately, competition in Telekoms in Düsseldorf is fierce. Unfortunately that doesn’t lead to better service nor low prices. New connections can take far too long and issues are often created when changing provider to the expense of consumers. Some customers wishing to change speak of disastrous periods of no service at all. 

Smartphones and mobile use have taken over lives in Germany too and the backbone for mobile voice and data continues to be developed. Sim packages in 4g with fancy names for the home do away with the need for a landline. Speeds and limits can also be an issue though. At the time of writing, 5g is on its way in Germany too

Mobile only voice and data contracts are also available with such companies as Lebara and Lyca, who are specialised in international packages and websites in English.

Many deals include the purchase of a smartphone and are lengthy, with commitment up to twenty-four months. This can be too long for many expats, who may be interested in prepaid or pay as you go contracts which are also available.

The number of contracts is vast and fine print is important for two reasons in particular. Is unlimited truly the case or do hidden limits or lower speeds exist and what happens if a move abroad suddenly becomes relevant?

Maybe other countries give hope. Finland has fast mobile coverage to all corners of the country, so vast numbers of clients are never connected “immobile” through a cable. Just walk into a kiosk, purchase a sim card, register online and receive unlimited 4g for under € 1 per day.

Back to Düsseldorf, where the benefit of a landline allows conversing in a calmer manner, stores of the big four telecoms providers are found downtown and beyond.

By Vincent Green / Jun 18 2020

Stack of aluminium chairs


The service environment in Germany is extremely different to that in, say, the US or the UK. Customer experience is defined both by a mix of personal attitudes and the ability to interact with others. Also a result of social tradition and a few decades of history.

Sandy beach, water and 2 women


To the surprise of newly arrived expats, some sections of the Rhine in Düsseldorf offer numerous beaches on both banks. The fine sand and shingle are ideal for walking, playing, relaxing and picnicking. Especially on warm and sunny summer days, people flock to enjoy the river. 

City guide for expats

Amazing Capitals Düsseldorf is packed with insights for expats. It is dedicated to helping international residents make better choices, settle in and participate. Enjoy!