Since the mid-1990s a number of competitors have emerged in Germany, offering different rates and conditions for their telephone services. It is anything but easy to fully grasp this variety of customizable German telephone services. As opposed to former times, when telephone services in Germany were largely controlled by the government, you can now choose from a variety of offers. German telephone services may include flat rates, different rates for international calls or for calls to mobile phones. Over the past few years, it has become customary to combine telephone services for landlines, mobile calls and Internet access to be offered in one package.
There are different kinds of telephone services with landline access in Germany. Some of them allow high-speed Internet access as well. German telephone services can be obtained without Internet access, of course; but it is usually easier to buy Internet and telephone services from the same provider in Germany. A good approach to finding your way in this maze of rates and services offered in Germany is actually a very simple piece of advice. Just ask yourself which telephone services in Germany you need (and not which ones are available). In most cases, you will indeed find a deal suited to your particular requirements.
The most basic standard connection is a simple analogue telephone. It has an autonomous electric power supply, and after signing a contract with a provider, you simply plug your phone into the socket. By the way, if you would like to use a cordless phone, you better buy one in Germany since imported models need to be officially licensed in Germany.
This connection type has only got few capacities for Internet access: You can use a 56 kbit/s modem, which then occupies the phone line. You should keep in mind that the dial-up internet connection can amount to hefty fees after a while. You will pay a basic rate for this German telephone connection and additional charges for every call. Considering the many attractive offers and low rates for landline and internet connection, getting an analogue telephone connection hardly makes sense.
Many providers have switched from analogue phone connections to ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), which allows digital data transfer. The big advantage of ISDN is that it offers more than one phone line which can all be used separately without impairing your internet connection. You will receive the necessary hardware from the service provider. However, you will have to face additional installation costs.
For Internet access, you need either a PC with an ISDN-card or a special router for log-in. The latter is often supplied by the service provider. The transmission rate is up to 64 or 128 kbit/s depending on whether multiple lines are used at the same time.
Although it is usually associated with high-speed Internet, ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) also offers reliable telephone connections. Many providers offer DSL Internet in connection with a respective landline connection. While DSL/ ADSL connections are by now available in more than 93% of all German households, some remote areas might be exempt from this. You should therefore ask your provider if this type of German telephone and internet connection is available in your area.
As an alternative to German telephone service providers, you can also use VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) for regular phone calls. With a (relatively inexpensive) adapter or a device which is fit for VoIP, you can make phone calls using your internet connection.
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