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Telephone Services in Germany

We only recommend Deutsche Telekom services for telephone and DSL connections (but not for Internet service). Click here to open a pop-up window explaining why. Please take this into account when reading the information below

There are two types of telephone line available in Germany, namely analogue and digital. The difference between analogue and ISDN is explained below.

Click here for a summary of the current Deutsche Telekom telephone rates.

Analogue - (Technically known as 'POTS' and available in Germany as 'T-Net') this is the traditional telephone connection that has been around over 50 years. The customer is allocated a single number, can buy a telephone from around €20 and can connect standard analogue modem providing a maximum 56Kbaud upload speed and 33.6Kb download (in practice actual rates are about 15-20% less due to line quality issues). Using the telephone or Internet from a standard modem blocks the phone line from making or receiving other calls. Analogue telephone lines can be extended or distributed around the home with the limitation that only one phone call (or modem-based internet connection) can be made at any one time. A basic analogue connection costs from €15.66 per month (plus call-charges), with a one-off connection charge of €59.95 (reduces to €29.94 if a working connection is already in place). Note that analogue telephones from other countries can often (but not always!) be made to work on the German analogue phone system, but may need plug adapters, new cables or simple converters. Many (especially older) cordless phones are not licensed for use in Germany and should NOT be used because of the large penalties that can be incurred in Germany for using unlicensed wireless equipment. Bear in mind that equipment that required mains power from the USA will need a converter or transformer to run on the 220v/50cycle domestic power supply in Germany. Such devices are not generally recommended for 'always-on' equipment such as answering machines.

Digital (usually 'ISDN' - Integrated Subscriber Digital Network) - ISDN is a popular alternative to analogue telephone services in Germany and is particularly economic in regard to similar products in other countries. Available throughout Germany, the ISDN service offers:

  • No modification to existing telephone cabling coming into a house/apartment (in-house cabling may need modification!)
  • A fully digital, high quality 'network' connection to the German telephone system.
  • 2 usable communications 'channels', either or both of which can be used simultaneously for data (e.g. Internet) connection at 64Kb bi-directional per channel or normal voice connections. The two data channels can be combined (if your computer equipment and your connected partner/ISP allow it) to achieve 128Kb rates, but with the downside that this blocks the network circuit from making or receiving further calls.
  • 3 Telephone numbers as standard - up to 10 available at no extra cost.
  • Special services such as call forwarding, call waiting, conference call, charge advice, number recognition (in most cases only if you have ISDN equipment that supports it).
A range of pricing plans which combine monthly cost with differing call rates. ISDN connections cost from €23.60 per month (plus call-charges), with a one-off connection charge of €59.95.

ISDN in your home is a recommended alternative to a single normal analogue phone line if:

  • you have any reason to need more than one 'line' (e.g. private and business, or separate phone and fax).
  • you want additional or individual telephone numbers (for parents, children, fax, business).
  • you want faster, efficient computer connections to your office or the Internet (64Kb guaranteed, bi-directional, compared to 56Kb best (44Kb usual) for analogue, with slower return (e.g. 28Kb) paths) assuming DSL is not available or you have no need for DSL speeds (see below).
  • (again, assuming no DSL) you will spend a lot of time on the Internet or connected to your company, which would otherwise tie up a single analogue line - ISDN allows you to have this connection and still make and receive phone calls on the second channel.
Considerations for ISDN connections
  • Usually longer waiting time to install - 4-6 weeks is not unusual - this is largely because Deutsche Telekom (the phone company) has a monopoly and is not especially customer-orientated, but for many new residents in Germany is because they have no credit record which Deutsche Telekom are required to check before setting up a new account.
  • There is a one-off, fixed connection charge of €59.95, although there may be additional costs if Deutsche Telekom required to identify, install or move the first socket in your home if (same as analogue). If you are taking over an existing line the second charge can usually be avoided, especially if you can provide the previous owners name and phone number on your application, so that the line/circuits can be quickly identified.
  • You will need to buy additional equipment to work with ISDN, e.g.:
    • ISDN telephones (from €65.00)
    • ISDN to analogue adapters (in order to be able to buy, or use existing analogue phones, answering machines, or faxes) - from €90.00 - small home/office exchanges from €190.00
    • Computer adapters or interfaces to take advantage of ISDN data connection speeds (from €90.00) - note that with the analogue adapter referred to above older analogue modems can be used, but will not be able operate faster than their analogue (usually 56Kb or 33.6Kb) specification. Card-based ISDN adapters for Laptops (PCMCIA) cost from €150.00.
    • Hybrid adapters combining analogue phone connectivity (e.g. 3 lines) and digital computer connection (via serial port or USB) cost from €130.00
  • It is often a more economic and flexible solution to consider cordless telephones as part of your phone system, and base the ISDN system around the location you plan for your computer, e.g.
    • Have ISDN connector installed near to where computer is installed (standard connection cost of €59.95 plus any work required to move socket to correct position).
    • Connect computer directly to ISDN outlet via adapter.
    • Connect analogue adapter to ISDN outlet.
    • Connect 'business' phones or fax directly to adapter, positioned near to computer.
    • Connect cordless telephone base station to adapter to allow remote handset(s) to access the telephone system in the remainder of the house.

Click on the links below for more detailed information (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

General Information on Telekom and Internet services

A "Roadmap" to guide you along the decision path for selecting the services best for you

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