Forum Forum (
-   Germany (
-   -   The WIFI Desert that is Germany (

RN7 08-08-2014 22:54

The WIFI Desert that is Germany
This summer I’ve travelled in Italy, France, Austria and Germany. Whereas all the hotels in I and F provided free WIFI, there is virtually nothing available in A and D. The hotel in A charged 7€ for a week’s usage via an outfit called “Hotspot” but there was no signal on the third floor and the connection was erratic even from the reception area. There may be WIFI available at Macdonald’s and/or Starbucks but I’ve not been there. No cafés or bars provide free WIFI and the reason is explained in the following article (in English) from “Der Spiegel”, Radio Silence: Germany's Wireless Internet Problem

Free wireless networks are in short supply in Germany. Liable for the
activities of their users, service providers are operating in a risky
legal gray area. After national elections this fall, that could all

Motel75 08-08-2014 23:39

YEs, Germany's totally stupid legal situation is the main reason for this - and it hasn't changed since that article was written. And mobile data often doesn't provide an answer. There is still very poor reception along numerous railway lines, for example.

inquisitor 09-08-2014 09:26

The other (global) issue nowadays is that most hotel Wifis are totally congested during rush hours, which is owed to cheap home-grade Wifi equipment, the lack of any traffic shaping and insufficient uplink capacity. Interestingly often it is not even the data volume that stresses infrastructure but the mere number of Wifi clients connected, as most Wifi APs start breaking down once more than 20 clients come online. A number easily reached now that people take 2-3 devices along.
Configuring Wifi channels properly (either exactly overlapping so Collision Avoidance does work or at least 4, better 5 channels apart to evade overlapping) and rolling out 5GHz coverage could mitigate one of the bottlenecks.
That said, even if your hotel offers Wifi you can hardly rely on it these days. Cellular service is also much more secure by the way as - in contrast to Wifi hotspots - all data is being transmitted encrypted over the air interface.

bylo 09-08-2014 15:49

One more irritant is that where there is free WiFi on offer, McD, Starbucks, airports, etc. you need a functional phone in order to get an access code via SMS. Not everyone who visits DE and AT has such a phone or has a phone plan that allows for international roaming. This is particularly irritating at airports because people arrive from all over the world and this is quite a poor way to welcome them.

By contrast in North America free WiFi is either usable without any barrier or at worst after you click to accept boilerplate terms and conditions on a browser page.

dg7feq 11-08-2014 10:23

this is mostly because of the very strict liability laws in germany that say the owner of the line is responsbile in person for any abuse done on the line. thats why you will not find any open public wifi without any kind of registration (as long as you are not really stupid to leave your home router open)

DRNewcomb 11-08-2014 13:06


Originally Posted by bylo (Post 45929)
This is particularly irritating at airports because people arrive from all over the world and this is quite a poor way to welcome them.

It's Germany; they "have regulations". If they didn't have regulations, they'd have to call it "Italy". ;)

bylo 11-08-2014 15:39

Yes, I realize that. The article upthread from Der Spiegel goes into that in detail. That may be valid for commercial operators like McDs and Starbucks. However airports, rail and bus stations, etc. should find an acceptable way to at least allow people to access their own and related websites so as to get flight information, timetables, news, weather, tourist information, access standard webmail like gmail, hotmail, etc.

Better still there should be some way for visitors to get an access code without requiring SMS. For instance on a recent trip to CH when I told a hotel desk clerk that I couldn't use their free WiFi because I didn't have SMS service she pulled out a stack of cards, each with a unique access code. Granted at a hotel they know who you are. I would have no problems with showing a boarding pass or ID at an airport, etc.

Added: Or accept a credit card but charge a nominal fee like €1 per hour. If they're willing to offer free WiFi to those with SMS service then why gouge (€5+ per hour at DE airports) those without?

It seems that CGN Köln-Bonn airport is the only DE airport with truly free WiFi.

wolfbln 12-08-2014 20:03

This problem is more and more recognized by the public and finally the lawmakers. As they are the only legitimate people to change the present judicial situation.

Actually, there is a big discussion going on about the liability of the Wifi owner for illegal downloads. The construction of free WLAN networks (that's how Wifi is called in Germany) planned in the cities is blocked and more and more technical progress is hindered.

Unfortunately, there is no big support from the IT and Telco industry, as e.g. Telekom Deutschland is happen to run both mobile internet and many so called "open" WLANs (which need a German SMS verification). So a real competition of both access ways to the internet is still not taking place.

But slowly politicians of the present government seem to change that and at least to exclude hotels and restaurants from the "Störerhaftung" (the judicial principal on which the liability claims are founded). If you can read German, this is the actual situation in detail:

It's still unclear what the owners of copyright protected files get in return. Germany after all is a state which doesn't want to intrude into privacy very much. So the beneficiaries of the present situation are mostly lawyers sending out dissuations to the owners of the logged IP addresses and some scared people pay.

To catch illegal downloaders by this system is just a bad joke. You may get some minors, but most people use file hosters these days which are considered safe, as in this country downloading is not a crime for personal use, only to upload (and with torrents you do both).

Btw. I agree with your comments about the xenophobic nature of the verification of many so called "open" WLANs only by a German mobile number. This gets even more ridiculous by the fact that prepaid SIM registration is handled very lax. A lot of verified users are actually called Dagobert Duck (= Uncle Scrooge) living in Entenhausen (= Duckburg).

bylo 13-08-2014 13:14

A pleasant surprise! I'm posting this at MUC using T-Mobile's 24hr free WiFi. All they asked for was name and e-mail address, both of which I was happy to provide.

So it seems things are getting better in the land of :beer:

wolfbln 14-03-2015 03:41

Finally German government has reacted and changes the law on WIFIs, at least a bit.

From now on, commercial providers of WIFI-hotspots will be except from liability claims in the future. They need to encrypt their WIFI with WPA2 or similar. The anonymous user has to tick a box where he declares not to do anything illegal. That's all.

So restaurants, airports, bars, hotels and so on will get a safe legal base and offer more WiFis in the future.

Unfortunately, private owners of WIFIs are still not allowed to open their hotspots. They need to know everyone who they accept on their network by name. Here the liability is maintained which led to many dissuasions in the past.

So we are moving slowly.....even if the whole legislation doesn't make no sense at all.

All times are GMT +1. The time now is 04:49.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
© 2002- ad libitum