WiFi in German ICE Trains

As I found out a few months ago, some ICE trains in Germany are equipped with WiFi access points operated by T-Mobile. That’s great because it allows you to work in the train, on the way to your office or to your customer! (Or, of course, you could browse Facebook, check your mail, etc…)

WiFI in a German ICE train

The service is currently available in selected trains on the Dortmund—Cologne—Frankfurt and Frankfurt—Stuttgart—Munich route (and soon also on the trains servicing the Frankfurt—Hannover—Hamburg route). See this map{.lipdf} for all routes with WiFi available in the trains.

T-Mobile’s WiFi portal in a German ICE train

T-Mobile charges their regular fees (about 8 Euros/hour) for using WiFi in the train. You don’t have to be a T-Mobile customer to use the service. In addition, WiFi powered by Deutsche Bahn and T-Mobile will also be provided on several train stations. If you travel frequently on these routes, T-Mobile also offers a 30-day HotSpot Pass (30 Euros).

This service is especially interesting for German iPhone owners with a (German) T-Mobile contract as the unlimited usage of T-Mobile WiFi access points is included in their contracts. Hmmm. That makes the iPhone a little more interesting (I’m commuting on the Munich—Ulm—Stuttgart route). Unfortunately, their WiFi backbone connection seems to be as weak as the Vodafone EDGE/3G signal on that route, most likely due to environmental circumstances (low cell coverage, mountains, etc.).

Update (04/25/2010): At least on the Ulm—Stuttgart leg of the route, a UMTS USB stick and a prepaid data plan (such as the ones offered by blau.de or fonic.de) are a good, much cheaper alternative to the T-Mobile WiFi solution. You can get UMTS USB sticks with prepaid data plans (daily fee on a per-day-of-use base) from these German cellular network providers:

  • T-Mobile Web’n Walk UMTS USB Stick 7,2 MBit/s
  • Vodafone WebSessions USB Stick
  • blau.de E-Plus Surfstick UMTS/HSDPA
  • FONIC o2 Surf-Stick (HSDPA / UMTS / EDGE / GPRS)

You could also buy a SIM-lock free UMTS/3G stick and surf on any prepaid data plan (which you would of course have to purchase seperately, then) of any German carrier.


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