Internet, Phone, TV, Postal Mail
Be available! Mobiles, telephone, internet, post Global telecommunication has rapidly advanced in recent years. At the same time, the cost of telephone and internet usage has decreased significantly. Therefore, it’s not a problem to stay in contact with friends and family from home anymore.
Almost every student in Germany has a mobile phone (called Handy in German). Some use their mobiles from home instead of getting a landline. In most cases, international students are well advised to purchase a mobile phone card from a German provider. Keeping in contact with friends and acquaintances in Germany is easier and more economical that way. If you use a foreign mobile phone card in Germany, you will have to pay much higher rates for texting and making calls.
It’s easy to receive your own German mobile number. But there are several things you should pay attention to. There are basically two choices – either you can sign up for a mobile phone contract or you can purchase a prepaid card.
With a contract you agree to become a customer for a certain period of time – usually 24 months. You may pay a monthly base fee for your mobile service. In return, the provider supplies you with a new, high-quality mobile at no charge or for a small fee. And if you wish to prolong the contract, you’re allowed to choose a new mobile to replace your old model. If you decide to sign up a mobile phone contract, make sure you understand the conditions and rates – and don’t forget to read the fine print. It doesn’t hurt to ask about special rates for students either.
You can purchase a prepaid card with or without a mobile. The advantage of prepaid is that you have no contractual obligations and have much more flexibility. With prepaid cards, you buy a certain amount of credit which is debited every time your phone or text someone. When your card is empty, you can purchase more credit – either via the internet or by purchasing a card from a supermarket, drugstore or kiosk.
Most student halls of residence and flat-shares have internet connection. If you have a PC or Laptop, you can easily log on to the internet from your room via cable or WLAN. If your room does not have an internet connection, you have two options. Either you can register for an internet connection or get mobile internet access by purchasing a UMTS stick.
In most cases, you need a landline for a standing internet connection. Therefore, select the best bargain that includes internet access and sign a contract with a telephone company.
The advantage of mobile internet via a UMTS stick is that you need not sign a contract with a particular provider. Not only do you get immediate internet access, but you can also log on wherever you are in Germany from your laptop. The disadvantage is that mobile internet service is quite expensive compared to a standing internet connection.
However, students in Germany can get by just fine without their own internet connection. For example, you could go to one of the many internet cafés in your university town. For a small fee, you can surf the web, chat and send e-mails. Or you can use the computers at the university.
There are many ways to gain free internet access at German universities. Students at some universities log on to the internet from their laptops via campus-wide WLAN coverage. All students receive their personal login data when they enroll. And if you don’t have your own laptop, don’t worry. All universities provide computer workstations for students to use.
If you don’t want to rely solely on your mobile, you can also get a landline at home. Similar to mobiles, home telephone service is offered by numerous phone companies at various prices. In contrast, when you get a landline you have no choice but to sign a contract with the phone company.
Nowadays most landlines come with an internet connection. And fixed rates are becoming the norm. This means you pay the same amount every month no matter how long you call other landlines in Germany or surf the web. However, international calls are usually not included in this standard fixed rate. There are special offers which include calls to specific foreign countries at a slightly higher fixed rate.
You should definitely compare prices and offers. It might also be worth asking whether students are eligible for a special rate.
In addition, a very simple way to save money on international calls is to use callby-call numbers. These are dialing codes which allow you to take advantage of especially inexpensive providers even when you have a telephone contract with another company. Before making a call, you simply select the least expensive provider and dial its code. However, not every telephone company recognizes callby-call numbers. Before registering for a landline, ask the telephone company whether call-by-call is possible.
If you don’t have your own telephone, you can use public telephone cafés. However, public telephones are getting harder to find in Germany. You can still find coin-operated phones in Germany, and at airports, telephones are available which accept credit cards. Using a public telephone can be expensive and calls should be kept short, if possible.
To make longer calls or international calls, we recommend going to a telephone café. There are a number of telephone cafés in every German city. There you can buy phone cards or take advantage of special rates when making international calls.
Just as in other European countries, the state charges a fee for the use of radios and televisions which finance the public broadcasting stations. It is usually collected by a fee-collecting agency known as the “Gebühreneinzugszentrale” (GEZ). If you have a radio or television you must register with GEZ. Visit GEZ online for more information or call round your local post offi ce. Since the 1st of January 2013 the rule is: one residence – one fee”. The number of electronic devices or the number of people living in one residence is not important. You can find more detailed information and the possibility to register online!
Certain people can be exempted from the obligation to pay the fee. Check out the detailed overview on the website!
As a student, you normally can only get exempted if you draw benefits from BAföG.
In addition to these electronic modes of communication, the good old-fashioned postal delivery still exists in Germany. Deutsche Post is Germany’s largest postal delivery company and sends letters and parcels from Germany to every corner of the world.
You can take your letters and parcels to any post office, designated by a black postal horn on a yellow background. You can also drop your post into the yellow letter boxes situated at frequented areas throughout town. There is a timetable attached to every letter box, stating when the next pickup is scheduled.You can send small and large parcels from specially designated “parcel stations” (Pack-station). Incoming parcels can also be sent to a parcel station where you can pick them up.
You can ask about postal fees for letters and parcels directly at the counter in the post office or online with the "Portokalkulator".
The price depends on the size and weight of the item and the country of destination. Letters (up to 20 g) in Germany cost 70 cents and postcards cost 45 cents.
You can purchase stamps at the post office, at the stamp vending machines outside, and on the website of the Deutsche Post.