Setting Up Home Internet in Stuttgart

Setting Up Home Internet in Stuttgart

It’s nor­mal to be in a rush to get Inter­net set up when you move to town—so much of our lives involve online access. How­ev­er, you would do well to take a lit­tle bit of time to shop around and check the fine print on your “Fes­t­netz” offers before you get locked into one you won’t be sat­is­fied with long term.

Pric­ing and offers on var­i­ous prod­ucts and speeds are con­stant­ly chang­ing, but this guide will help you think through the most impor­tant ques­tions to con­sid­er before get­ting connected.

1. What’s the minimum contract term?

All right, that’s prob­a­bly not the first ques­tion you think of, but it helps to put in per­spec­tive why it’s so impor­tant to go care­ful­ly when choos­ing an Inter­net pack­age in Germany.

Most home Inter­net con­tracts (regard­less of the provider) run for a min­i­mum of two years, with no pos­si­bil­i­ty of ear­ly exit. Don’t be fooled by the “three-month can­cel­la­tion period”—that’s just how much notice you need to give before your con­tract will renew for anoth­er year.

Let’s put that in prac­ti­cal terms. If you sign a nor­mal home Inter­net con­tract in June 2021, you will be locked into pay­ing the month­ly fee until June 2023 and you will need to can­cel by the end of March 2023. Oth­er­wise you will be con­trac­tu­al­ly oblig­ed to con­tin­ue pay­ing that month­ly fee for anoth­er year: until June 2024.

Unlike what’s com­mon in many oth­er coun­tries, there’s no switch­ing providers or pay­ing an ear­ly can­cel­la­tion fee. The only way to get out of the con­tract before the min­i­mum term is com­plete is to move far enough away (usu­al­ly at least 200km, although this varies by provider).

There are providers who offer short­er terms or even flex­i­ble month-to-month ser­vice, but you’ll pay a pre­mi­um for flex­i­bil­i­ty. It may even be cheap­er to pay for a year’s con­tract than a month-to-month if you think you’ll need the ser­vice for at least three months.

2. What products and speeds are offered at my address?

Just because you live in Stuttgart doesn’t mean that you will have access to the full range of prod­ucts any giv­en Inter­net ser­vice provider is offer­ing. Infra­struc­ture updates are rel­a­tive­ly slow in Ger­many, due to a lega­cy of for­mer­ly state-owned telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions lines. That means there’s no point get­ting your heart set on cable or fiber optics until you check what’s pos­si­ble where you live.

It doesn’t real­ly mat­ter which provider you check with first—if your neigh­bor­hood is only wired for DSL at 16 Mbit/s, then that is the fastest you’ll be able to get from any provider. It can be espe­cial­ly frus­trat­ing to notice that these slow­er DSL con­tracts often cost more than cable or fiber optic con­nec­tions that are at least three times faster! It’s bet­ter to resign your­self to it from the start, because the Inter­net ser­vice providers aren’t very wor­ried about com­pet­ing for this mar­ket and prices are fair­ly stan­dard. The upside is that it won’t mat­ter too much which provider you choose, since the con­nec­tion will be equal­ly sta­ble from any of them.

If you’re lucky enough to be liv­ing in an area with high-speed DSL, cable or fiber optic con­nec­tions, though, then it’s well worth shop­ping around.

3. What providers are there in Stuttgart?

There are four main Inter­net ser­vice providers in Stuttgart: Telekom, Voda­fone, 1&1, and O2.

Telekom is the com­pa­ny that used to be the state-run telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pa­ny, which means they can be found every­where. They are also still the gate­keep­er through which the oth­er com­pa­nies need to pass in order to access DSL and phone lines. That means if you want to get con­nect­ed quick­ly, they are a very good bet. Their cus­tomer ser­vice is fair­ly sol­id and they are respon­sive when there are ser­vice inter­rup­tions. They have fiber optic con­nec­tions in lim­it­ed areas. Unfor­tu­nate­ly they tend to be the most expen­sive option, even when tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the dis­count they offer for bundling a mobile phone contract.

Voda­fone is extreme­ly pop­u­lar in Stuttgart and you can find ser­vice shops all over, includ­ing in the sur­round­ing towns. They often have attrac­tive offers, most espe­cial­ly when it comes to bundling services—you can get sig­nif­i­cant dis­counts when you have both cell phone and Inter­net or cable TV and Inter­net, or all three. They are incon­sis­tent in terms of cus­tomer ser­vice, which can be very frus­trat­ing; how­ev­er, it can be turned to your advan­tage. First, by going to dif­fer­ent local branch­es of Voda­fone, you can get dif­fer­ent offers when bundling ser­vices, which can add up to sig­nif­i­cant sav­ings. Sec­ond­ly, if you are deal­ing with a prob­lem on the phone with a cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tive and they are telling you some­thing isn’t pos­si­ble or are unwill­ing to give you a refund on an extra charge, sim­ply hang up and call again, because the next per­son may mys­te­ri­ous­ly be able to do much more for you.
They recent­ly acquired Uni­ty­Media, which used to be the only provider of cable Inter­net in Stuttgart. The com­pa­nies are not yet ful­ly inte­grat­ed, which means they share some infor­ma­tion but have sep­a­rate billing and cus­tomer ser­vice depart­ments (which may be rel­e­vant if you have a Voda­fone cell phone but want cable Internet—Vodafone will sell a cable Inter­net plan to you but you’ll have to call the Uni­ty­Media num­ber for every­thing afterward).
If you are a mem­ber of the US gov­ern­ment or army, you might also want to check out TKS, anoth­er Voda­fone company.

1&1 is a sol­id com­pa­ny that offers both DSL and (in a few areas) fiber optic con­nec­tions. They often have good offers price-wise, although it may take a while to get a ser­vice appoint­ment for set­ting things up. They are also very well rat­ed on cus­tomer service.

O2 is among the cheap­est providers in Stuttgart. How­ev­er, they dras­ti­cal­ly cut Inter­net speed after the month­ly con­trac­tu­al data lim­it. If you are a heavy Inter­net user (lots of stream­ing or video games), they won’t be the right choice for you.

4. How can I compare plans from providers?

There are com­par­i­son web­sites for just that pur­pose. is one of the best rat­ed and includes a “nowhere cheap­er” guar­an­tee. There you can find many small­er Inter­net ser­vice providers who spend less on adver­tis­ing and rely on such web­sites to bring them cus­tomers. You may even be able to get con­tracts to the main providers above using Check24 to get a bet­ter price. You can con­ve­nient­ly set up your search to com­pare spe­cif­ic products—for exam­ple, if you have already checked the avail­abil­i­ty of fiber optics in your area, you might lim­it your search to DSL at a cer­tain speed. You can also set price constraints.

How­ev­er, such com­par­i­son sites don’t take into con­sid­er­a­tion all the dis­counts you may be able to receive by bundling togeth­er oth­er prod­ucts. Once you have nar­rowed down the types of ser­vices you’re inter­est­ed in, it may well be worth check­ing with the indi­vid­ual providers to see what spe­cial offers you may be able to receive.

Of course, it’s impor­tant to check all the fine print, regard­less of how you do your com­par­i­son. It’s com­mon for there to be one price for the first 6 or 12 months and a high­er price afterward—and again, since you can’t can­cel a 24-month con­tract ear­ly, you real­ly have to aver­age the month­ly cost across the two years. There may also be one-time instal­la­tion and set­up fees (although these may often be waived, espe­cial­ly when you shop around).

5. What else should I watch out for?

There are some spe­cial sit­u­a­tions that can blind­side you if you have nev­er encoun­tered them before. If you’re will­ing to go the extra mile in ask­ing ques­tions, you may save your­self some grief lat­er on.

Cus­tomer ser­vice rep­re­sen­ta­tives are quick to offer assur­ances that get­ting con­nect­ed will be easy and is guar­an­teed to hap­pen by a cer­tain date—but if you don’t have that guar­an­tee in your con­tract, it doesn’t mean any­thing. Ask your provider what assur­ances you have if your ini­tial con­nec­tion is delayed or if there are ser­vice inter­rup­tions. They may offer a mobile hotspot option or give you addi­tion mobile phone data if you also have a cell phone plan with them.

Do you live in an apart­ment build­ing or a mul­ti­ple-fam­i­ly house? When you are talk­ing about ini­tial set­up, insist that the ser­vice provider check whether there are any blocks on new con­nec­tions. If build­ing man­age­ment pre­vi­ous­ly gave notice about a con­struc­tion project or elec­tri­cal issue, the provider won’t send a tech­ni­cian to con­nect you until the man­age­ment com­pa­ny has giv­en them an all clear. And your sign­ing an Inter­net con­tract doesn’t mean the provider will check back with the man­age­ment company—they’ll just leave you to try to sort things out. After you’ve signed the con­tract (mean­ing you’ll have to pay for two years start­ing from when­ev­er they con­nect you), you’ll no longer have any leverage.

It’s also some­times the case that the man­age­ment com­pa­ny has set up a build­ing-wide con­tract with a par­tic­u­lar Inter­net ser­vice provider. That doesn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly mean that you can’t use anoth­er provider, but it will mean that ini­tial set­up is more com­pli­cat­ed. Or if you do use that provider, you’ll need the con­tract or cus­tomer num­ber for the build­ing so that your con­tract can be added to it. Sound con­fus­ing? Well, sure­ly it’s bet­ter to fig­ure it all out before you’ve already locked your­self in and are stuck with­out Inter­net in the meantime!

Hope­ful­ly your jour­ney to get­ting your home con­nect­ed to the Inter­net will be quick and easy—perhaps thanks to hav­ing con­sid­ered the pos­si­ble pit­falls in advance! If you’re also look­ing for a cell phone plan, be sure to check out this arti­cle.