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Christian

Another solution to remain available in coverage gaps is VoIP, provided you have alternative Internet access. Among few others Austrian A1 as well as the now insolvent German full MVNO Telogic (through their brand "solomo") run a SIP service which enables subscribers to place and receive calls with their mobile number by VoIP.
Unfortunately no other major MNO I know of has dared introducing this handy feature, probably due to technical challenges of implementation as well as QoS and the fear of losing roaming profits. Now that inner-European roaming tariffs have been pushed down by the Central Committee in Brussels and especially that VoLTE is coming, which requires SIP to be implemented in the core network anyway, I hope we'll see some innovation at this end.
Sipgate, who through their subsidiary Vintage Wireless, are about to become a full MVNO in Germany, will probably increase competition for such innovations, which, by the way, was already trialed on Telogic's MVNO platform under the brand of "sipgate one" (not to be mixed up with the eponymous American service which is based on geographic numbers). However rumour says that sipgate struggle to get interconnected with the incumbents, who apparently fear an asymmetrical call-volume balance may impact their revenues.
By the way yourfone.de, a subsidiary of E-Plus, offer free call diversions to any German network as part of their all-network flatrate. That's a really convenient feature on a network that suffers from such bad congestions in some cities that subscribers are frequently unavailable despite receiving HSPA+ cells with more than -70dBm. "Cell breathing arrest" is what I call this.

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