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Wifi Hotspots and UMTS in Germany
Internet in Germany: Internet Cafés and Wifi Hotspots
Despite the increasing number of Germans who have got an excellent Internet connection at home, there are still more than enough Internet cafés and wifi hotspots (called W-LAN Zonen), particularly in major cities. If you are looking for an internet café in your vicinity, we recommend to have a look at Germany’s Yellow Pages. Unfortunately, some of the cafés listed might not offer internet terminals after all. With the increase in Wifi hotspots, the number of internet cafés has strongly decreased in recent years.
Unlike the good old internet cafés, many of German wifi zones (at airports, stations, bars, restaurants, hotels, coffee shops etc.) are free of charge. However, this is not always the case and sometimes you will have to enter your credit card information in order to get access. However, at some places you will be asked to buy a coupon and pay in cash. You can learn more about methods of payment in Germany from our respective guide article.
However, smaller hotels and bed-and-breakfast pensions rarely provide access to Wifi. Instead, it makes sense to ask for internet cafés or places with a Wifi hotspot at the front desk. If you are lucky, the coffee shop across the street offers its customers free internet access.
Internet in Germany: Private Wifi and UMTS
If you use your private wifi network at home or provide public or semi-public wifi zones for others, you are legally obliged to secure the network in a reasonable manner. Otherwise, you can be held responsible if someone uses your unsecured wifi network for illegal online activities. Ideally, this means using WPA2 encryption and an individual password (with at least eight characters, including capital letters, numbers or symbols).
Of course, as an alternative to wifi hotspots, you can also purchase UMTS Internet access for your laptop or netbook from a mobile phone service provider. These companies provide you with a so-called “surf-stick” that can be attached to an USB port and connects it to the UMTS network. If you are not a frequent Internet user or do not want to install wifi in your rental apartment in Germany, this may be a temporary alternative.
You should keep in mind, though, that UMTS is rather slow in comparison. Moreover, billing per time unit or data volume will quickly become rather expensive. You should therefore consider a flat rate for your UMTS stick as well. Many German websites, such as this one, also offer overviews and direct comparisons of the various companies and their deals.
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