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Comparing the Top 3 Mobile Operators in Germany

by Fiorella
top 3 mobile operators in germany

With a population of more than 82 million people, Germany has one of Europe’s largest telecom markets, indisputably led by three top operators. Let’s find out who they are.

There is a wide range of mobile operators offering telecom services in Germany. But we must know first that such services are offered through two different types of networks: D-network and E-network. That is to say these networks set the power you can use with your device.

The D-network was the first one used with a frequency range of 900 MHz. Certainly, this one operates more transmitting stations and better reception in very remote areas as it was the first network used. But you won’t notice the difference while staying in the city. On the other hand, the E-network operates in the frequency range of 1,800 MHz, thus transmitting the signal on higher frequencies.

What we just explained sets one big small difference between the top mobile operators in Germany. We can see this as well as their differences, coverage, pros and cons depending on your destination within Germany below:

3G and 4G Speed Test with German mobile operators

3rd largest German operator: O2

Telefónica Germany GmbH & Co. OHG (Telefónica Deutschland) is a telecom company commercially known as O2. In short, here are some facts and features about O2:

  • O2 has the smallest network and uses the E-network. This means they have great coverage around the country, except in rural areas.
  • It is the cheapest provider in Germany and has greatly improved since acquiring the E-Plus Network (2014).
  • They can brag to be the only one that covers the entire Berlin metro (“U-Bahn”) system with 3G/HSPA+ and LTE speeds. A big pro for those who spend a lot of time on a train in the city.
  • O2 does allow resellers (ALDI Talk, NettoKOM, Ortel, mobile, WhatsApp. Ortel Mobile, Fonic, AyYildiz, for instance) to access LTE speeds.
  • Some other mobile subscribers like Drillisch and Freenet’s are served by O2’s network. 

2nd mobile operator in Germany: Vodafone

The UK telecom giant Vodafone Group has its own German subsidiary known as Vodafone GmbH with headquarters in Düsseldorf. We placed Vodafone as our second company because its coverage, rates and data speed are exactly in the middle of what O2 and Telekom offer. We can mention some other facts about this D-network operator:

  • Their goal is 5G implementation the sooner possible. In order to do so, they carried out a total of 1,300 LTE upgrades just last year, being able to connect over 400,000 users.
  • Low prices for more credit and great service is the reason why it is so recommended for locals and travelers.
  • Some resellers on the Vodafone network include EDEKA MobilLIDL ConnectOtelo and Lycamobile.

Meet the number 1: Telekom

Currently, the Deutsch telecom market is led by the giant Telekom, which is way ahead of any other competitor when it comes to revenues. The formerly called T-Mobile is one of the largest telecommunications companies in Europe. Find below some of the many benefits for Telekom users:

  • Telekom provides the best coverage in Germany for both, cities or remote areas. This is because they use several networks to serve users. Evidently, this results in higher rates. So users must make sure to opt for the plan that ensures the coverage they need.
  • Telekom also has the fastest network and EU roaming.
  • Resellers include congstarja!mobilPenny Mobil, and Lebara Mobil.
German operator’s LTE availability by region

How to get a SIM card in Germany

If traveling to Germany is part of your short-term future, then you should be aware that it is one of the European countries requiring SIM card registration. Therefore, ID documents must be required when buying a local SIM card. Depending on the purchase method choose, you can register and activate your SIM card as follows:

  • Present your ID (passport) online through a video verification process
  • Go directly to a mobile phone shop (“Handy Store”) or electronics store
  • Present a printed “Post Ident” document at any German post office (you need your passport and a valid German address to do this).

Phone compatibility with German mobile operators

Today, unlocked smartphones support several frequencies and therefore, are compatible with many networks worldwide. But you better make sure your device will work as expected with German frequencies.

  • Rural areas are served by Vodafone, O2 and Telekom with the very same frequency: 800 MHz (Band 20).
  • All three make use of Band 8 (900-MHz) to serve their users in the cities, but Vodafone and O2 may also use Band 20 (800 MHz), while Telekom can also make use of Band 20 (800 MHz) for the same purpose.

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