What makes cell phone coverage so expensive

This is how providers justify the expensive German cell phone contracts

German mobile phone customers often look jealously at neighboring countries. As reported, for example in Austria there is now a real LTE data flat rate for just under 25 euros a month at the discounter. Customers don't even have to commit themselves to the provider in the long term. In Lithuania, where the purchasing power of consumers is of course not comparable with that of German customers, the real flat rate costs just under 16 euros.

In addition to the high costs, the comparatively low data volume included in the price is often frustrating in Germany. In addition, users are either asked to pay extra after consumption or they have to live with a data throttle that effectively makes online access unusable. AT&T in the USA, for example, has proven that there is another way, whose prepaid card we tested some time ago.

Network operators justify costs

German cell phone tariffs remain expensive
Photo: artivista werbeatelier - fotolia.com/teltarif.de, Montage: teltarif.de But how do the German mobile network operators justify the contract conditions that are comparatively poor for customers? Stern magazine has now investigated this question. The answers that the colleagues received from the provider's press offices even distracted some of the actual topic. Upon request, Vodafone only announced that its tariff portfolio would cover "as far as possible all usage scenarios".

That's even true, because with Black Business +, the Düsseldorf telephone company even has a real flat rate on offer. However, this is only available for business customers and the monthly price of around 200 euros cannot make up for the fact that the tariff can be used not only in Europe, but also in the USA and Canada at no extra charge, and the customer gets a new smartphone every year can get. The statement that one remains "affordable for large sections of the population" is not true, at least for customers who need a real flat rate.

After all, Vodafone is now taking the path of packing more inclusive volume into its tariffs. As part of a current campaign, interested parties even get twice the data volume compared to the regular service in the respective Red contract. In return, there is a threat of automatic data transmission or throttling to 32 kBit / s after consumption, which in 2017 means in practice that the customer is offline.

Telekom and Telefónia: "The UMTS licenses were so expensive"

The star received the answer that we have known for years from Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica. The mobile radio frequencies are expensive in Germany, and the network development costs a lot of money. Telecommunications expert Torsten Gerpott does not accept these arguments. Compared to the ARD Tagesschau, Gerpott said that the costs for the expensive UMTS licenses had long been written off. Rather, the telephone companies wanted to hide their high profits.

o2 offers a real flat rate with restrictions

In September Telefónica introduced o2-free tariffs with significantly more data volume than before. In addition, customers can "surf endlessly" via UMTS and limited to 1 Mbit / s after the high-speed volume has been used up. If the limitation of 1 Mbit / s is quite acceptable, then doing without LTE access is actually no longer appropriate. In addition, the price of the O2-Free contracts with 10 GB and more high-speed volume per month is at a level at which real flat rates are already available in other European countries.

Operators point to high costs for network construction
Photo: teltarif.de Telekom offers a real flat rate with MagentaMobil XL Premium - but at a similar price level as Vodafone. Compared to the star, the Bonners argued: "Different economic and geographical conditions lead to different tariff and price structures in the countries of the European Union." The ex-monopoly also refers to its unlimited streaming with StreamOn, which in turn does not apply to all services, but only to providers who have reached a corresponding agreement with Telekom.

However, that cannot hide the fact that Telekom has the least attractive contract offers on the German market in terms of price. For around 30 euros a month, customers get just 2 GB of high-speed volume in addition to the all-network flat rate. Vodafone offers twice the volume for the same price, and o2 even offers 10 GB. In ten EU countries there is also a real flat rate for around 30 euros, in France at least 100 GB.

More attractive conditions are not foreseeable

There was no answer from any of the three network operators as to when German mobile phone tariffs would fall to the level of neighboring countries - even though the companies admit that customers in this country are also using mobile Internet access more and more intensively. Instead, the providers are happy about customers who re-book data packets when their Internet access has been throttled, or who even use the automatic data transmission, which ultimately leads to additional income for the provider.

While Vodafone and o2 are at least adjusting the inclusive volume of their existing contracts upwards, Telekom is behaving very cautiously in this regard. The intensely advertised StreamOn option is not even available in the cheapest MagentaMobil tariff, data volume was increased this year only in the two smallest smartphone tariffs, but not in the contracts for frequent users, although these are already comparatively high costs for their tariffs have to wear.

A change in pricing policy is not foreseeable for the time being, because the Bonn provider has a decisive advantage over its competitors: The network quality of Telekom is unmatched by Vodafone and Telefónica, the expansion of space with LTE is much more advanced than with the other two German mobile operators. Even if Vodafone in particular has caught up with Telekom, all network tests published in recent months show that the network of the Bonn telecommunications company is currently the reference in this country - and that is exactly what Telekom is paying for its customers accordingly.