The hated text message arrives on time, when cell phone owners need it the least. “Your browsing speed will be reduced depending on the fare.” Mobile data is a contractually limited good. Navigating in a strange city with Google Maps, listening to music in the metro, videoconferencing on your mobile phone, quickly sending a few photos while you are on the move, all this only works with a sufficient volume of data. If this time is used again in the middle of the month, one of the mobile telephone operators offers to reserve an additional gigabyte for “only 4.99 euros”. And if you find yourself in the middle of Hamburg and you can’t find the train station, this is what you do.
It doesn’t really seem consumer-friendly – let alone when you look beyond national borders. Compared to countries like Poland and Romania, Germans pay three times more for their mobile data volume. The Federal Association for Consumer Protection (VZBV) compared the tariffs for a gigabyte in EU countries. The use of mobile networks is above average in this country, explains Kathrin Steinbach, consultant for market observation at the consumer advice center. While a gigabyte (GB) of data volume in Poland costs 83 cents in 2019, German mobile phone users had to pay 3.35 euros for the same amount. The average of one gigabyte of mobile data in the EU in 2019 was around 1.50 euro.
In the past five years, Germany has twice been the European leader in terms of price. If you compare the mobile communications plans with the usual five gigabytes of data volume on the market, the German mobile phone user pays almost 20 euros, while the same service costs less than four euros per month in Romania or near. of six euros in Italy.
However, the relatively high price does not prevent cell phone users in Germany from using more and more mobile data. In 2019, it was a total of 2.76 billion gigabytes, in 2020 almost four billion. After all: mobile data prices have fallen in the EU in recent years – also in Germany. Five years ago, a gigabyte still cost nearly seven euros in this country, about twice as much as it does today. Germany remains one of the most expensive.
Mobile phone users pay between 60 and 80 euros per month for a plan
No need to get excited, after all, food prices are more expensive in other countries? The Berlin Consumer Center sees it differently. Since 80 percent of 14-year-olds in Germany were already using mobile internet in 2020, “user-friendly” prices were part of “the general interest,” says Kathrin Steinbach. Tariffs should therefore be adjusted so that they are competitive again across Europe. Because the current high prices can also be a location disadvantage for Germany. Especially today, as ambulatory care services, delivery services and craftsmen are also app dependent.
What the all-inclusive package was fifteen years ago are now so-called unlimited rates. With Telefonflat, you can finally make unlimited calls to all networks for around 30 euros. The same is true today for mobile data. But the tariffs, with which you can save yourself the hassle of low speed, come at a high price. Anyone who currently has a mobile phone contract with unlimited data volume pays 84.95 euros. It’s the same with Vodafone (79.99 euros) or Edeka smart (94.95 euros). With these packages too, German prices are well above the European average, explains Kathrin Steinbach.
In order to defend the high prices, mobile phone providers argue that extending the network in a country like Germany is more expensive and that there are more bureaucratic costs in that country. Steinbach, however, finds the argument permeable. “So how do you explain the price differences with France and Italy? Both are also large countries with similar bureaucratic requirements.