3G prepaid internet in Germany

31 Jul 2011
Posted by Laptop Junction

Germany has 4 large cellphone networks offering prepaid SIM cards for calling and internet access. Here’s an impression of T-mobile 3G prepaid prepay PAYG internet with unlimited access for a daily flat fee - good news for heavy internet users. Though it’s not always what it seems, have a look.

T-mobile Web’n’Walk prepaid 3G cellular internet

T-mobile Xtra Card Web’n’Walk DayFlat internet pack offers prepaid internet access for a flat daily fee. It’s advertised as unlimited internet access with a laptop, netbook, notebook and cell phone without restrictions. And it's true, T-mobile delivers - the connection is fast enough for calling over the internet (Skype / VOIP) and heavy use of for instance Google Earth.

3G Prepaid prepay PAYG internet offer from t-mobile called the Xtra card webnwalk dayflat

3G Prepaid prepay PAYG internet offer from t-mobile called the Xtra card webnwalk dayflat

Also important - T-mobile accepts simcard registrations on a foreign (non-german) address. According to European rules everyone using the internet must be registered by name, address, homeland. Cheap discounters offering for example the LIDL mobile prepaid simcard only accept online registrations on a national German address. There's no way to enter a foreign address. Also discounter BLAU only delivers their 3G simcards to a German home / business address.With these virtual mobile operators there's also no physical shop to go to and register a foreign address.

T-mobile manually handles the registration at a T-mobile shop (called T-punkt) using a passport copy. However there's a catch. Some shops (also T-mobile) want official prove of your home address. For Germans it's no problem, the identity card shows the home address. However a passport usually doesn't, it only contains personal details. What this not all are so willing to accept a handwritten address and refuse to sell / activate the SIM card. But a bank account statement might help, showing a home address. Otherwise go to the next shop and try again.

Prepaid PAYG prepay cost calculator Prepay prepaid PAYG 3G internet datacard T-mobile Xtra card webnwalk DayFlat pack germany
Prepay Prepaid PAYG cost calculator with cellular provider overview in Germany

T-mobile’s cellular prepaid internet service was tested for 2 full days in 2010. Later on in 2011 the same 3G data card still worked for several weeks. There’s quite a bit of small print and a few things one should know before starting off with T-mobile.

Traveling to France? Have a look at 3G prepaid internet in France.

T-mobile’s 3G prepay internet

After having a look among the 4 cellphone networks in Germany (Vodafone, T-mobile, O2 and E-plus) it seemed T-mobile had the better deal. It doesn’t matter if the internet is used on a cell phone or laptop, netbook, notebook. Quite a difference with Vodafone which does make that distinction.

Unlimited internet access (unbegrenzt) is a bit misleading. Although there is no cut-off threshold from the net, the connection speed is reduced to UMTS at 1Gb and to GSM/EDGE at 2Gb. These are daily limits so each day comes with 1Gb at 3G speed, which is quite a lot.

The T-mobile SIM card is data only, it can’t be used for voice calls - but the helpdesk at 2202 can be reached by voice call but it's not free once connected to a helpdesk assistant. The balance can be checked by calling 2000 - this is also the number to recharge the card with prepaid codes bought at for instance petrol stations.

The charge is € 4.95 / day starting at 00:00 for 24 hours. Best is to start the connection as early in the day to get the maximum bandwidth for the charge. If started at 23:00, the charge is still the same and only valid for 1 hour.

Impression of O2 prepaid 3G internet in Germany

T-mobile’s shop locater suggested to use the T-mobile shop in the shopping Arcade in Bocholt, which is a town close to the border with the Netherlands. It’s easy access for those traveling through Germany when coming from the Netherlands by road.

Struggling with weak cell phone signals? Have a look at a cheap cell phone weak signal booster.

Buying T-mobile web ‘n’Walk prepaid internet access

Xtra Card Web ‘n Walk prepaid internet access is advertised as € 10,-, on T-mobile’s website in German language. It seemed like a pretty good deal, however the small print got in the way, even for the T-mobile sales person at the counter.

After sampling 3 different Web ‘n Walk sim card packs, the last one was the right one. The others could only be sold together with a 3G USB modem or similar. And here came another part of the small print. The sim only version of Xtra Card Web’n’Walk DayFlat costs € 20,- when bought at the counter instead of the € 10,- mentioned on the website.

It’s a bit misleading – the SIM card comes with € 10,- balance (startguthaben), though costs twice as much. It’s like a cigar offered from your own pocket.

After entering passport details and address information one should wait 15-20 minutes in or near the T-mobile shop to have the SIM card activated. Some-one at T-mobile seems to go through all sim card purchases and activates all entries by hand. It’s not unique for T-mobile, cell phone networks in France and Spain have a similar process – even upto 24 hours after purchase. At the T-mobile shop the OK came after 15 minutes.

Traveling to the Netherlands? Have a look at 3G prepaid internet in Holland.

Connecting to T-mobile web ‘n’Walk prepaid internet access

The T-mobile simcard was used in a Huawei USB dongle about 12 hours after registration. Coverage was with GSM-EDGE access only. The connection started without a problem, though the transfer speed was ridiculously low – even slower than GPRS.

Testing the T-mobile simcard in a Nokia N95 showed an intermittent Edge signal – not being able to hold the data connection.

Connection issue with T-mobile Xtra card webnwalk DayFlat pack in germany
Connection issue with T-mobile  in Germany - EDGE connection goes on / off all the time. JoikuSpot shares 3G over WIFI

The APN codes were already there. A few hours later network configuration SMS-es  / text messages arrived at the Nokia N95. After saving these, a new APN was listed called Web’n’walk. The settings are APN = internet.t-mobile UN= t-mobile.

3G connectivity and performance was ok when in reach of a UMTS signal using a 3G USB dongle, the HUAWEI E220 and the Nokia N95 using JoikuSpot to share the 3G signal over WIFI.

When balance runs out the following screen appears to recharge the prepaid – prepay – PAYG account. This is different from other cellular providers – like disconnecting the line or worse zero-ing prepaid balance using a non-flat fee rate at 3G speeds.

3G Prepaid prepay PAYG internet with t-mobile Xtra card webnwalk dayflat showing zero balance
3G Prepaid prepay PAYG internet with t-mobile Xtra card webnwalk dayflat showing zero balance

The 3G data card can also be topped up directly at many petrol stations and kiosks throughout Germany. You need to enter the card's phone number (starting with 0151) at the cashier and pay for 15, 30 or 50 Euro. There's no SMS confirmation when done. 

To check the balance one needs to register the card at the "kundensrrvice" at T-mobile.de and go through a short authentication process to obtain a login username and password. After login at the "kundenservice" the prepaid balance is shown. Calling to number 2000 (free) is also possible.

Overall performance of T-mobile Xtra card web’n’walk DayFlat

In comparison to other prepaid deals in September 2010 and July 2011 – T-mobile Xtra card web’n’walk DayFlat is the best option in 2010/2011 for heavy daily users (upto 1Gb) requiring maximum speed when in reach of a 3G UMTS signal. In case you don't need the bandwidth and not in reach of a 3G UMTS signal, other networks offer a better deal with less bandwidth for a lower daily rate.

If you need to do a lot of international calling using Skype of similar the T-mobile Web 'n Walk card is a good deal. VOIP access is not blocked and at 3G - HSPDA speeds is very fast.

Although the 3G UMTS offer is misleading in two ways (unlimited internet access and a different at the counter price) it’s still worth the effort. Be prepared before you go, make a print-out of the website offer and show this at the counter.

3G prepaid information in Germany

Summarized info for prepaid / prepay / PAYG 3G simcards in Gemany


T-mobile Web'n'Walk Extra 3G simcard

Vodafone prepaid 3G data simcard

O2 prepaid 3G data surfstick

E-plus prepaid tarifs

German prepaid cost calculator

Prepay prepaid PAYG 3G internet simcards in Germany