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I've just been talking to another traveller who was particularly grumpy about Munich airport not having free wifi when he was there recently.

Now I seem to recall that Germany has pretty strict laws prohibiting open wifi access because the person providing the wifi would have some responsibility if somebody were to do some hacking over their signal.

But I don't know whether that law prohibits all kinds of free wifi or only the kind where a user doesn't need a password or key or have to enter any kind of info into a page that comes up first before allowing through access to the net.

Or could it be some exclusivity deal where some restaurant or cafe paid the airport for rights to be the only WIFI provider or some such thing?

So is it only Munich airport that lacks free wifi or do all German airports lack free wifi due to a law as outlined above?

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Starbucks has free wifi in germany too :-) –  Omar Kohl Oct 2 '11 at 22:24
    
@OmarKohl: And are there such Starbucks in the airports in Germany? –  hippietrail Oct 2 '11 at 22:28
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At least the airports in Munich, Frankfurt, Düsseldorf and Berlin Tegel have Starbucks with Wifi –  Peter Hahndorf Dec 9 '11 at 17:00
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All of the Lufthansa lounges offer free unauthenticated Wifi. Presuming you don't have access to the lounges, you may still be able to get access by sitting near one of the lounges. –  Doc Dec 14 '12 at 15:40
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AFAIK, the main reason is the legal issues with open WiFi in Germany. msnbc.msn.com/id/37107291/ns/technology_and_science-security –  vartec Jan 21 '13 at 9:31
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4 Answers

up vote 11 down vote accepted

It's generally hard to find free WiFi in Germany; it's pretty much as you said and has something to do with the fact that the hotspot owner would be hold responsible for whatever his users or guests do or download on his network. There was a case about this a few years ago where some kid used his neighbors open wifi and downloaded movies or music - therefore most small shops, cafes or restaurants want to avoid any hassle with the law and rather don't offer free WiFi.

Some big cities have dedicated pages for wifi hotspots (http://www.freewifiberlin.com/), and for some cities you can get apps that show you the open hotspots.

You can sign up with Telecom who runs some hotspots in train stations, airports and big public places, but it's rather expensive. If you stay longer in Germany you should get a 3g modem for your laptop, this would probably your cheapest and most reliable solution.

If you travel via train you can at least charge your laptop in most long distance trains; and some trains even offer WiFi via the Telecom hotspot account.

Never seen any starbucks in germany - all the small bakeries are the places to go for fresh kuchen and coffee in the morning!

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Went to Munich last week and had an hour spent in Starbucks. The Wifi was free and easy to connect. The connection was fast and very reliable. –  Rudy Gunawan Dec 9 '11 at 3:17
    
It is located in Sendliger Strasse. –  Rudy Gunawan Dec 9 '11 at 3:30
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+1 for the small bakeries –  greg121 Nov 21 '12 at 7:49
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Free WiFi in Germany is really a problem. There are legal issues (owner of WiFi is liable for any actions done from this WiFi) and many hotels, airports and Telcos think it is reasonable to charge you with 2-10 EUR/h.

There are free hotspots at Starbucks, McDonald's (not sure), but generally rare.

Recently I have seen some new free Internet terminals at Munich airport (at least in Terminal 2), but I think that's so 90's.

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Not all the German airports lack free WIFI. Two examples:

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I have all my SIM cards with me for Wifi in FRA –  greg121 Nov 21 '12 at 7:51
    
At least in FRA, the mobile phone number required to get the free wifi must be a German number. –  Doc Dec 14 '12 at 15:40
    
Not so. I have been able to get it with a foreign number –  PERSONA NON GRATA Jan 2 '13 at 12:36
    
At FRA no mobile phone or even a valid email adress is needed to gain access to 30 minutes of free wifi. Also the 30 minute limit is enforced by a cookie on your phone... –  ThomasS Nov 4 '13 at 10:46
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I think the problen is not the law. In Germany, many coffee shops have free Wi-Fi.

I think the issues is that the landlord, Fraport or Munich airport is somehow connected to Deutsche Telecom.

They get paid to ensure there is no competition to the telephone company monopoly Wi-Fi provider. It would be a good case to take to the European Commission as I am sure it breaches EU competition law!

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I can't agree with you that there are many cafes with WiFi –  Dirty-flow Jan 2 '13 at 8:39
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