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Germany 

Telephone

The international calling code for Germany is 49, and the prefix for international calls is 00; the area code prefix is 0. Some number blocks are reserved for special use: Number starting with 010xx let you choose a different phone provider (see below), 0800 and 00800 are toll-free numbers, 0180 are service numbers (which may or may not be more expensive than a local call). Avoid 0900 prefix numbers. These are for commercial services and usually incredibly expensive (although some of them are used by different phone providers since the range of 010xx numbers isn't sufficient).

Germany has a highly advanced communications network; coverage for mobile phone is very good unless you go into really outlying areas between small villages. All mobile providers use GSM technology at the 900 and 1800 MHz frequency ranges. This is different to the GSM 1900 standard used in the United States, but modern "multi-band" handsets will usually work in all GSM networks. Non-GSM phones cannot be used in Germany. Germany is one of the few countries in the world that feature the UMTS technology in metropolitan areas.

The vast majority of Germans own mobile phones; the disadvantage of this is that the once-common phone booths have started to disappear except at "strategical" locations such as train stations. If you stay for a longer period of time, consider buying a prepaid phone card from one of the mobile phone companies; you won't have trouble finding a T-Mobile (in a "T-Punkt"), Vodafone, E-Plus or O2 store in any major shopping area. Mobile telephony is still comparatively expensive in Germany, depending on your contract you may be charged about €0.10 to €0.50 per minute (and more for international calls).

In most supermarket chains, there are prepaid SIM cards from their own virtual providers available. These are normally quite cheap to buy (10-20 € with 5-15 € airtime) and for national calls (0,15-0,20 €/minute), but expensive for international calls (around 1-2 €/min), but incoming calls are always free and SMS cost around 0,15-0,30 €. They are available at: Aldi, Penny, Plus, Tchibo, Schlecker, Rewe, Minimal, toom. A registration via Internet or (expensive) phone call is necessary after buying to activate the SIM card.

Since the liberalization of Germany's phone market, there is a multitude of phone providers on the market. If you're calling from a private fixed line, you can usually choose from the different providers (and thus from different pricing schemes) by using special prefix numbers (starting with 010xx) with prices of 0,01 € or 0,02 €, sometimes below 0,01 € even for international calls. There's a calculator on the net where you can compare the prices for different destinations. Hotels usually have contracts with a particular phone provider and won't let you use a different one as they can't afford to pay the bill.

Alternatively, you can also buy prepaid phone cards you can use by calling a toll free number; this is especially a good deal if you intend to make international calls. Cards' quality and prices vary wildly, however, so a good recommendation cannot be made.

Consider making your calls from German public payphones. While the original rates are often quite high (e.g. call to Australia 3.00 Euro per minute) you may save a lot using "Open Call Through" (call to Australia 0.30 Euro per minute). See The Foxy Phone Page for details.

Recently, phone shops have sprung up in the major cities, where you can make international calls at cheap rates.

Internet

Internet cafes are common, but usually small, local businesses. You probably won't have a problem finding at least one in even smaller towns or large villages. See Online-Cafes (in German) for details. Phone shops will often offer internet access, too.

Most hotels offer internet access. Inquire your hotel about access possibilities and rates before booking.

From every phone - regardless whether private phone, hotel phone or mobile phone - you can get free dialup internet access immediately without sign-up. Just the normal land-line phone rate applies when you use one of the numbers listed at The Foxy Phone Page. These numbers can be used even for internet access from abroad.

In several cities, projects exist to provide free "community" hotspots for wireless networking. See Public Spots (page in German) for details.

Passenger lounges at some airports and central railway stations also provide internet access to their customers.

Public libraries often offer Internet access, however usually not free of charge. The libraries are open to the public for free, taking a book home might require you to get a customer card at a low fee, though. Note the National Library in Leipzig, Frankfurt am Main, and Berlin is not free.

Postal Service

Deutsche Post (the German postal service) runs several international companies including DHL and others. The service quality of these companies is generally comparable to that in the US, however, the prices are higher. Deutsche Post / DHL announced significant price cuts due to increasing competition.

The German postal service is reliable. The service has been reduced in the privatization process. Due to a surge in the theft rate [especially by outsourced letter carriers and contractors] any international shipments, especially incoming, should be insured if they are valuable or important. Speed is normally at a very good level.

Inquire for the rates to your destination country at the local post office. Air mail (Luftpost) can be as cheap as the alterative, Landweg. If you want to send packages, there are three options (cheapest to most expensive)-Maxibrief an oversized letter up to 2kg and L+W+H=900mm. Päckchen is a small(up to 2kg for international), unisured packet. Otherwise it will have to be sent under the price system of a DHL Paket.


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