Internet in the UK – now ahead of Germany!

There were times when I felt that the internet technology in Germany was far more superior to that in the UK.

Whilst many households in Germany have ISDN lines, the technology is widely unknown in the UK – even for many small businesses.

Broadband arrived earlier in Germany than the UK.  Whilst I was going online with almost 1MBit, most UK internet surfers were still using 56k modems.  By the time 1MBit was on offer in the UK, German providers were offering 6MBit.

For a long time now I have been able to listen and watch selected TV and radio programmes from German public service broadcasters, and more recently some private ones, yet the BBC iPlayer has only been out since the end of last year.

Now, it seems, the UK has not caught up, but has overtaken Germany!

A report in the Telegraph states that the average person in the UK spends just over 4 hours per week longer online that the average German.  Working so much on websites I would probably buck that trend, but does the average Brit really spend 14 hours per week online?  Do they really spend 3 times as many SMSes per month?

But then, what counts as online?  Surfing the web is probably obvious, but does sending an E-mail count?  Am I really online at that point?  Surely that depends on the type of E-mail that I use.  Webmail is online, but how about IMAP accounts that synchronise with their servers?  Or company Exchange servers that are online even when their users are not?

What about Skype?  I know that my computer is online when I use Skype to make a telephone call, whether it be to another Skype user or to a landline, but surely that’s different type of ‘online’?

The gap may be about to widen even more, with the announcement that BBC 1 and BBC2 are to be streamed online.  Unfortunately this will only be available to viewers in the UK (why can’t they allow us ex-pats to subscribe to them as well?!)  But although there are similar services for some channels in Germany, they are not directly from the broadcaster themselves.

This is, of course, wonderful news for students with broadband access.  Now they no longer need to fit a television set and computer into their rooms (do they still have those 2 amp sockets?) but can watch online.  Online?  Are they really ‘online’ when they are only watching their favourite soaps?  That should push up the online statistics a bit more.

Which just leaves the question of whether those same students will still need to buy a television license to watch the channels on their laptops.  In Germany they would…


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Die Briten surfen mehr als die Deutschen…

  2. says:

    Die Briten surfen mehr als die Deutschen…

    Eine Studie hat ergeben, dass die Briten ungefähr 4 Stunden länger online sind PRO WOCHE als die Deutschen.

    Dabei war Deutschland viel früher dran mit Technologien wie ISDN und DSL. Aber nun holen die Briten sie ein und fangen an Ihre Fernsehkanäle…

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