19 October 2018
With eSIM (for embedded SIM) you do not need a physical SIM card anymore, it is replaced with a chip on your phone which can be programmed. It identifies the device to the provider. Because the SIM card is not physical, the device can be very small. It could be a watch or a dog collar. For an international traveller this is very interesting as well. While it may be difficult to get hold of the physical SIM card, i.e. find the right store and hope they have your favorite card in stock, you can just download your eSIM from the internet. Pretty convenient.
You download the eSIM profile to your phone, activate it by scanning a QR code and entering your eID to activate your eSIM profile. The chip on your phone is identified by an eID. It can be found in the settings menu of your phone.
Although it would be very convenient for tourists to swap in a German eSIM, the mobile providers do only offer them for postpaid, but not yet for prepaid contracts. This is just a matter of time. The future looks bright.
18 October 2018
The most important step after buying a mobile contract is to end it. Make it known to the provider that you are not planning to stay for more than two years. The idea is to buy and forget. This gives you the most leeway when negotiating new terms and you cannot forget that all important date in two years.
The second step should be to get rid of free riders, i.e. fraudsters, who to burden you with subscriptions when you step onto their website. The mobile connection gives away a number which identifies your sim card. They charge you by lying to the mobile provider and it is hard to get rid of them, once they have your information. Their charges will be appear on your bill. Yes, just like that. But you can block them in advance. In German the keyword to remember is ”Drittanbietersperre“ which means third-party block. Call your provider and tell them to set this up for you. What is the easiest way to call your provider? Go onto the main website, look for ”Impressum“ and find their phone number. It must be there by regulation. Simple.
17 October 2018
This decision should be fairly simple. The most important factor is the time frame. If you happen to stay in the country for more than 24 months, you can should consider postpaid. Generally, you will receive more value for your money. This is especially true when combined with other contracts of the same company, e.g. broadband internet over cable, vdsl or fiber glass. If you use a lot of data and can afford it, postpaid is a good option. You may not even need another contract if you choose a contract with unlimited data. The down-side is the renewal of the contract, in case you forget to terminate it. This is why it is usually a good idea to terminate the contract in advance, ideally directly after forming it.
The downside of prepaid is usually the limited internet usage (measured in GB) and the hassle of topping-up your balance. On the upside, you have full control over your spending and can abandon the SIM card at any given time. Most supermarkets offer to top-up your balance, should you want to do so. For tourists the prepaid SIM card is the way to go.
03 October 2018
Choosing the right network can be difficult. o2 usually is the low-cost option, Vodafone comes in second and Telekom is at the top when it comes to cost.
Telekom prouds itself with the best network which was confirmed by Chip and Connect (both German technology magazines) in 2018.
After taking over one of its rival E-Plus, o2 struggled with performance issues in its network. Currently, o2 tries to catch up and iron out the problems many customers faced when the two networks were combined. A new cooperation to connect o2’s cell towers to the Telekom’s glass fiber network fits this narrative.
Vodafone comes out in the middle between the two. It receives very good ratings by Connect in 2018 and tries to innovate with new speed standards.
The decision is a combination of what you can effort and how much coverage as well as speed you need.