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Vodafone’s network is based on GSM 900/1800 and UMTS 2100 and provides the 2nd best coverage in Germany. The GSM network supports EDGE nearly nationwide and their UMTS network, which supports only HSDPA with up to 7.2 MBit/s and HSUPA with up to 5.76 MBit/s, is the most comprehensive one available in Germany.

Fonic is the discount brand of Telefonica o2 and therefore offers the same coverage as o2, which amounts to nearly 100% of Germany. The o2 network is based on (E)GSM900, GSM1800 (both with EDGE support) and UMTS2100 (HSPA with up to 7,2 MBit/s supported).

Tchibo, a coffee house chain and MVNO on the O2 network.The O2 network provides nationwide coverage with GSM900/1800 and UMTS2100. The GSM-network is being upgraded to EDGE since mid-2008, while the UMTS-network supports HSDPA with at least 3,6 MBit/s (most sites 7,2 MBit/s) and HSUPA with up to 1,45 MBit/s.

If bought in a shop the SIM will usually be be activated within a couple of hours after the shop has faxed the registration form, which must be filled out including a German address (which will not be verified however) upon purchase. If bought online, the SIM should be delivered activated.

However subscription by SMS sometimes fails due to technical problems. If you receive a SMS stating the failure of the subscription ("Ihre DATAFLAT Bestellung war nicht erfolgreich. Bitte wenden Sie sich an unsere Kundenbetreuung unter 0179/64242 (5ct/Min)"), you need to subscribe by USSD-menu (*104#) or by calling customer care at 0179 64242.

Tchibo SIMs are sold at Tchibo shops and online for € 9.95. During recurring promotions the Start-Paket price drops down to €1 or is free. (If free, then the account starts with a €1 credit.) Registration with an official ID card (a foreign passport is fine) and a German address is required, however the address will not be verified, so non-residents can provide their accommodation’s address. Shipping outside Germany is not offered.

Even before starting a WebSession you can browse the Vodafone [www.vodafone.de/ website ] free of charge and so test bandwidth and connection stability before paying. In order to test downstream bandwidth you can download [www.vodafone.de/business/hilfe-support/dashboard-software-fuer-windows.html Vodafone’s dashboard (~ 75MB)]

Paying WebSessions directly by credit card is not counted as a top-up and so will not prolong SIM valitidy. But you can keep your SIM active anyway: Just call 12007 from your Vodafone SIM at least once in 12 months and press 1 after the prompt. This will keep your SIM active for another 12 months even without topping it up the classical way.

Therefore you may buy top-up vouchers (so-called "Vodafone CallNow"), which are available in many supermarkets, gas stations, etc. Aftr you have gotten a top-up voucher, which basilcy is a 13-15 digit number, it can be recharged either online via the Websession captive portal (click on "Redeem of Vodafone CallNows") or by using USSD commands (see below). You can also check the current credit either on the captive portal or by USSD.

German Vodafone shops offer prepaid starter kits for € 20, while these are offered way cheaper at eBay.de ([shop.ebay.de/items/__vodafone-callya?LH_BIN=1&_dmpt=PrePaid_Karten_Pakete&_ipg=&_sc=1&_sop=15&_trksid=p3286.c0.m301 Search for "Vodafone CallYa" ]). When purchasing Vodafone SIMs online note, that "Vodafone CallNow" is the designation of recharge vouchers, while "CallYa" is the brand of prepaid tariffs.

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