Germany Youth Mobile Plans: MVNOs are still cheaper

What do I need to know?

  • Youth-focused plans in Germany are simply discounted versions of the standard plans, aimed at consumers under the age of 28
  • All operators’ plans offer unlimited voice and SMS, but only Deutsche Telekom and O2 offer unlimited data tiers
  • O2 has the cheapest plans overall, and its higher-priced tiers offer more data than its competitors
  • Overall, MVNOs offer better deals than the main operators, even with the discount for younger consumers

Background

Germany has the largest population in Europe, at just under 80 million people. However, like other European countries its population is skewing older, so that the youth demographic covered by operators’ specialized mobile plans (ages 18-28) is only around 11% of the population, and children aged 15-17 account for a further 3% of the population, meaning that youth plans are aimed at a small addressable market. By comparison, over one-third of the population (37%) is older than 55.

Smartphone penetration stands at 79.9%, the second highest in the world after the UK. Because the youth demographic is considered knowledgeable and interested in tech, and most devices and apps are aimed at younger users, it’s important for German operators to cater to the customers that they hope will stay with them over the long-term.

What are operators offering?

Deutsche Telekom/T-Mobile

T-Mobile’s plans are just discounted versions of their main MagentaMobil plans and therefore relatively expensive compared to those from mobile virtual network operators. The plans all offer unlimited talk and text, and each tier offers the same amounts of data as the regular-priced plans. Roaming and Wi-Fi hotspot access are the same, and the plans offer the same degrees of zero-rated gaming, music, video and social media, depending on which tier the customer chooses. The one-time connection fee is also the same price, at EUR39.95.

PlanS YoungM YoungL YoungXL Young
Talk & textUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Data (GB)61224Unlimited
Price (EUR)19.9529.9539.9564.95
Age limit28282828

O2

O2’s youth plans are also nothing more than discounted versions of their regular O2 Free plans, with consumers between the ages of 18 and 28 receiving a rebate of EUR10 off the monthly price. Each tier of plans with a defined amount of data has a “boost” variant available, which costs an extra EUR5 per month and features double the data allowance. The Boost plans feature the Connect-Option, which lets users share their data allowance among up to 10 mobile devices; O2 provides two additional SIM cards, and the user can ask for up to eight extra SIMs at no extra cost.

PlanS/BoostM/BoostL/Boost
Talk & textUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Data (GB)3/620/4060/120
Price (EUR)9.99/14.9919.99/24.9929.99/34.99
Age limit18-2818-2818-28

O2 also offers three unlimited-data plans, called Free Unlimited, for which the tiers are priced according to the speed of data that the consumer receives. The lowest-priced plan receives only 4G speeds, but the two higher tiers can access 5G speeds, as long as the user has a 5G-capable phone and is in an area covered by O2’s 5G network.

PlanBasicSmartMax
Data speed (Mbps)210300
Price (EUR)19.9929.9939.99
O2 Free Unlimited Plans

Vodafone

Like the other operators, Vodafone offers a discount to users under the age of 28, rather than separate plans tailored to the demographic. The difference is that the discount is much larger than those offered by DT or O2, even without the discounted headline prices for the first 12 months of the contract. The Red plans start at EUR29.99 per month for the XS tier (which also includes 4GB of data instead of Young XS’s 2GB), and go up to EUR59.99 for the highest tier.

PlanYoung XSYoung SYoung MYoung L
Talk & textUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Data (GB)2102040
Price (EUR)14.9919.9919.9924.99
Age limit28282828

Notably, Vodafone is the only operator not to offer an unlimited tier, though it does allow unused data to roll over to the next month. Its prices, however, fall between those of its competitors, and the monthly cost per GB is higher (though not for DT’s MagentaMobil L Young plan, its highest tier without unlimited data).

Smallest tier plansDTO2Vodafone
Price (EUR)19.959.9914.99
Data (GB)632
Price/GB (EUR)3.333.337.50
Highest tier plansDTO2Vodafone
Price (EUR)39.9534.9924.99
Data (GB)2412040
Price/GB (EUR)1.660.290.62
Price comparison: cost per GB of data

The reasoning behind the operators’ youth-focused plans is clearly to offer a discount to students and to those just starting their careers. However, the prices are still relatively high, and a number of MVNOs offer more attractive plans. For instance, the lowest-priced plan from Klarmobil, owned by Freenet-Mobilcom, offers 5GB of data for EUR9.99 per month using DT’s network, making it highly competitive with the plans above.

The operators themselves have tried to address this competitive disparity through their own second brands, such as DT’s Congstar. However, the lowest-priced plan from Congstar offers 3GB of data for EUR12 per month, which works out even more expensive per GB of data than its parent brand’s equivalent plan.

These high prices from the traditional operators, even for youth-focused plans, explain the prevalence not only of MVNOs but the so-called “no frills” brands and resellers sold by retailers – for a price-conscious market like Germany, MVNO offerings from the likes of supermarkets Aldi or Rewe represent a cheap and easy alternative for keeping in touch and getting online.

PlanAldiTalk Paket SRewe Ja!Mobil Prepaid BasicKlarmobil Allnet Flat 5GB LTECongstar Allnet Flat S
Talk & textUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited
Data (GB)3153
Price (EUR)7.994.999.9912
German MVNO plans (lowest-priced tiers)

References

https://www.destatis.de/EN/Service/Statistics-Visualised/age-pyramid-germany.html

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