According to the latest study of network coverage, this is the ranking of the German providers (sorted by reception quality):

  1. T-Mobile/Telekom (Congstar)
  2. Vodafone
  3. O2

This ranking is also reflecting the prices, with T-Mobile usually being the most expensive and Vodafone & O2 being more affordable.

Our recommendation

It is difficult to give a general recommendation on which carrier you should choose, because each region or even part of a city could have a different network coverage (see network coverage check below). In big cities you should have a good service with any German carrier. However, when you are traveling by bus or train, your carrier choice could make a big difference.

This is why we can recommend Deutsche Telekom’s young brand “congstar”: Congstar uses the same network as T-Mobile, but is more affordable. Congstar’s Do It Yourself Prepaid offer lets you design your own plan according to your needs. In our opinion: A good deal. If you want to save some money on your mobile phone plan and the reception is not of big importance, you should choose the cheaper plans by O2 or third-party providers.

If you are just looking for a sim card that offer you as much high speed internet as possible, you should read our overview of the best data plans in Germany!

Check the individual network coverage

Netzabdeckung T-Mobile 3G-4G
Example: Network Coverage of T-Mobile (3G and 4G)

Before deciding on a network provider, you can check their network coverage by searching for your ZIP-code / city and address:

Generally speaking, there are two different types of networks in Germany: D-network (mostly used by T-Mobile and Vodafone) and E-network (mostly used by O2). In 2014, O2 (Telefónica) bought E-Plus, which means that both carriers use the same network now. The E-network is transmitting the signal on higher frequencies, which do not have a reach as high as the D-network’s. Additionally, the D-network operates more transmitting stations. These could be some of the reasons why O2 and E-Plus have a worse signal quality and a lower reach. It can also be said that the D-network gives you better reception inside of building than the E-network. Many third-party providers are still advertising their network being part of the D-network (“D-Netz Qualität”), as this is known to be more reliable.

If you need to contact customer service of either of the above providers, have a look at the different options to contact your provider.

Is my phone compatible with the German network?

Usually, most smartphones support various network frequencies and are compatible with the German network. However, if you are unsure, you could check your phone’s supported network frequency bands.

GSM (2G): Voice calls and text messages; some very slow data transmission as well.

UMTS (3G): Voice call and data transmission; speed usually up to 384 kbit/s.

LTE (4G): Voice call and data transmission; speed usually up to 100 MBit/s.

For GSM service in Germany, your phone needs to support the FDD frequency bands 3 (1800-MHz) and 8 (900-MHz).

For UMTS, Germany uses band 1 (2100-MHz) like most of the world (except USA).

For German LTE data service, your phone needs to support the LTE-FDD bands 1 (2100-MHz), 3 (1800-MHz), 7 (2600-MHz) and 20 (800-MHz). If some of the bands are not supported by your phone, your connection speed will probably not reach the usual LTE speed and will be limited.
For example, Vodafone and O2 use band 20 (800-MHz) in rural areas as well as cities.
Deutsche Telekom (Congstar) also uses band 20 (800-MHz) on the countryside, but mostly makes use of band 3 (1800-MHz) in cities. Deutsche Telekom (Congstar) also started using band 8 (900-MHz) for LTE, while Vodafone and O2 still use that frequency band for GSM.

As always, if you have any questions, just write us an email: support@mygermanphone.de or contact us via Facebook Messenger for immediate responses.

12 Responses

  1. Anisha Ghosh

    I am using Vodafone and I think Vodafone has the worst service in Germany specially for people, who doesn’t speak German. They are not at all cooperating. I have a mobile phone contract with Vodafone and also I am paying insurance for my phone. The screen of my phone got broken and so I asked the insurance to change my phone. The insurance company has changed my phone and instead of a new phone they gave me an old repaired phone, whose button is not working properly.

    I have sent the phone back to them and also I have sent my old phone back as well. So I don’t have any phone with me now. I am trying to contact Vodafone customer service from today morning to resolve the issue but nobody speaks English and thus couldn’t help me.

    I have written an email to Vodafone but there is no answer. I have dialed 08001721212 and also said Operator , English Operator but not of these work. This is simply annoying.

    Then I have called 08007242643 and agents there have been changing departments and then putting me to answering machines. This is simply ridiculous. Till now I had no solution to my problem. I am paying Vodafone every month and now I have no phone. If I have known this I would have never ever taken the service of Vodafone in Germany.

    I cannot even cancel the contract with Vodafone now. I won’t recommend Vodafone either to anyone.

    • Sorry that you have to deal with this unpleasant customer service. From personal experience, we can recommend Congstar and Telekom. They are always very friendly and accommodating in their customer support.

  2. Hello,

    After being in Germany for 16 months, I am transferred by my company to China. Vodafone refuses to terminate the contract early – even when providing a letter from the employer stating about the transfer.

    It does not seem reasonable to make a client pay the remaining 8 months full price for a service that will not be provided. I don’t think this is honest and fair.

    On top of that, unfortunately the customer service operators are rude and not understanding, nor helpful.

    I will keep trying to contact the customer service for some understanding and good will, but so far Vodafone was not very fair to try to help on this topic.

    I do not recommend to anyone to take a contract with Vodafone.

    Best regards,
    Greg

    • Hello Greg,
      Keep calling the Vodafone customer service. Some of their employees might not know how to handle a case like yours. Unfortunately, you do not necessarily have a legal right for the contract to be cancelled early. If they do not want to terminate your contract, ask them for a contract hold/pause. We once had a client who went to Hong Kong and Vodafone paused his contract for 6 months. Sometimes they will switch your contract to a basic version that is free. So your contract is still running but you don’t have to pay a monthly fee. Hope this helps!

  3. I was wondering is TKS and Vodafone the same thing? We are being told it is if we sign up with them, but then . have been told if we can find a store with someone who speaks english for Vodafone directly to go to them. We have no transportation at the moment though.

    • TKS and Vodafone are not the same company. If you book anything with TKS, you will need to communicate with them in case of any questions. TKS merely uses the Vodafone network.

  4. I want to know which is O2 Carrier from the following List? Cingular, nextel, qwest, rogers, skytel, sprint pcs, suncom, tmobile, us celllular, verizon, virgin mobile, vodacom, bell, cellular one.
    Thanks for your help.

    • These seem to be US mobile network providers? O2 is a provider from Telefonica, and Telefonica does not operate a consumer mobile network provider in the US.

  5. Can i purchase o2 sim card i am asylee

  6. I can say with my 1 year of mobile using in different providers, it really depends on the provider but i can say with my own experience that i dont want to get to the E-network at all anymore the fact that if you are travelling in small citys or villages you have a low chance to get high speed internet even if it shows you LTE or 4G. I recommend the D-network. It is slightly more expensive but with the experience you i can complain the fact that you have with Deutsche Telekom 90%(In my case) 4G LTE highspeed up to 100MBit/s and me as a heavy user it’s really good.

  7. I have had exceptionally bad experiences with mobilcom. I took mobilcom as a mobile carrier in 2012.
    Ater two years I started having serious problems with connection. Now that I recall, I dont know if the internet ever worked properly.
    I could not get online, which was the whole point of me being their customer. I tried to seek help from their shop in Bad Homburg. The shop said they could not help, the reason being, I guess they only sell new contracts. I decided to terminate the contract as the connection simply did not work. This was done in the same Bad Homburg shop. I even went back to their shop to doublecheck the termination was done as I still saw some mail from mobilcom. I thought this was the end of my bad experience. After over a year had passed I noticed in my bank statement that Mobilcom is still withdrawing money from my account. I contacted mobilcom, and they said they never any termination of contract. As my mistake I should have saved and filed the termination paper. Now I have once more terminated the contract, but as expected in the fine print there is again a waiting period of 6moths or so… . On top of this mobilcom are uninterested and unwilling to help with making my connection work. So I am again paying for absolutely nothing.

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