Just back from 3 weeks in Ger and WIfi is VERY problematic there. Was very frustrating. Problems are the "norm" according to my Ger friend. My suggestion--avoid frustration and don't bother using it. If you do, good luck!
I stayed in Dresden,Berlin,Eurfurt,Rothenburg,Bacharach and Frankfurt and the wi fi worked well in all places.
It depends on where you are. E.g. there is an inner-city wide free WiFi in Berlin! Many coffee shops and hotel lobbies offer free WiFi. But of course it's not as customary overe here than it is e.g. in the UK. And rural Germany and WiFi really hardly goes with each other - unfortunately. However, there are plenty of pre-paid SIM cards out there that give you a 3G-flat for 30 days for €10.
That's odd. We have used WiFi in every hotel we have stayed at in Germany for the last several years. As far as that goes, WiFi seems to be all over the place from Banaue, Luzon to Kolomiya, Ukraine. I think you need someone to help you besides your German friend.
As for using Wifi, if you can find it: Some of the time in Germany (Gästehäuser, Zimmer) there has been a problem with the signal strength. Once I could get it in the breakfast room, but not in my room, which had been added on to the outside of the building. Another time I couldn't get it at the table in my room, which was under the cable box, but I could get it across the room. The host fixed it by putting a repeater in the wall socket. A third time I couldn't get it in the breakfast room, which was separated from the lobby, where I could get it, by a mirrored wall. But I recently couldn't get Wifi in a motel in the US, because I was too far from the router, and I have had good Wifi many times in Germany. So I don't think this kind of problem is unique to Germany. Finding it, on the other hand, can be problematic. A lot of smaller places don't have it, and big chain hotel often charge more for Wifi alone than I pay for a room with free Wifi at smaller places. But, you can get unlimited GSM internet access with a webstick from PennyMobil for 1.99€/day.
I am not a geek nor were the 2 US friends w/ me. We were using Wifi at the small hotels we stayed in. We were mostly in smaller towns but had problems in Rothenburg ob der Tauber. I was also in a small town NW of Berlin. Maybe if you are in the larger cities and in larger hotels there would not be a problem. If not traveling in the larger cities it would be wise to follow recommendations from those that have replied.
I have had occasional problems, but like others have noted, it's usually because I am too far from the router. In one case, I was on the 4th floor of a hotel and the router was downstairs. In another case, the free wifi was not available anywhere but the lobby. And in one hotel, I had wifi, while my friend a few doors away did not. In general, though, it was easily available almost everywhere, including public parks, restaurants, etc.
Some places are better for wifi than others, some worse. For me it seems much more individual place dependent than anything country related. I've had excellent wifi in Germany, Luxembourg, Belgium, France, Italy, Austria and Switzerland. I've had marginal wifi in Germany, France, Italy, and Belgium. I've had awful/unusable wifi in Germany, Italy and especially France. Note the same countries appear in more than one list. I also notice that wifi and internet access is a moving target. It all depends on the routers, the standard supported by them (ethernet, 802.11b, 802.11g, or 802.11n, powerline, wimax or others), the number of users sharing the same bandwidth, the interior design of the building, distance from router or repeater and many other factors. The attitude of the facility owners makes a huge difference. Do you have an open or secure system? New passwords each day or not? Time limits? Download limits? VOIP or video permitted or banned? Free or profit making? These things are all location specific not country or even city specific. The various hotels (etc.,) compete with each other and respond to what each others do. Your "Ger" friend may have been speaking from personal experience but my personal experience is different.
I had a problem once at a hotel in Budapest, couldn't connect to the Wi-Fi. When I mentioned it the next day at the front desk, they said they would reset the wireless router, and it worked fine the rest of the visit. Another hotel, in Rothenburg, it worked in the hallway, but not in the room. So it just depends, but it does help to ask.
Germany is no more better or worse for wifi than most other Western European countries. A few individual hotels not offering it or not offering sufficent range of signal doesn't really say anything about the country as a whole.
Nancy, I was in Germany (and other parts of Europe) in September and October, and had no problems with the Wi-Fi anywhere, either with my Netbook or with my iPhone. In some Hotels, Wi-Fi was only available in the breakfast room or lounge, while in others the hotel "discouraged" guests from sitting in the breakfast room and preferred them to use the Wi-Fi provided in the rooms. The only "issue" that I found is that occasionally when a lot of people were accessing Wi-Fi, it would slow down and not always make a connection at first. I agree with Nigel in that perhaps some hotels are using older and slower Wi-Fi Routers, which would no doubt have a bearing on the situation. Cheers!
Last year we had no problem in a Stuttgart business hotel and also in a small fewo in Rothenburg. Where there was no wifi,we used handy internet cafes.
Hi, True, avoid the frustration by going to an internat cafe. I go to an internet cafe in Berlin, Munich, Frankfurt...no problems. The place I found in Berlin was the cheapest, one hour for one Euro but closes at midnight. In Frankfurt and Munich the internat cafes, which I have used, are located near the Hbf. If not an internet cafe, the hotel where I stay (some) offers Internet to its guests...free.
We bought an AT&T data plan for our trip but used free hotel wifi (WLAN) where we can. It has generally worked but takes a bit of patience. AT&T data is likewise balky. We are in Vienna and I had to manually sample signals to find one (orange a) that would provide data service. "Bars" are meaningless.