German telecom operators Deutsche Telekom, Telefónica Deutschland and Vodafone have entered into cooperation for mobile network expansion to extend coverage throughout the country. Telefonica Deutschland said on Monday it would team up with competitors Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone to build 6,000 new mobile masts in Germany, as part of a joint push to close gaps in-network coverage.
In a joint statement, the operators said they intend to collaborate closely in the future, with the aim of expanding their mobile communications networks to achieve the best possible mobile broadband coverage for customers throughout Germany, especially in rural areas and along the road, rail and inland waterway transport routes. This is a condition that the operators are required to fulfil as stipulated in the country’s spectrum auction and subsequent license allocation.
Deutsche Telekom described cooperation as a milestone for network expansion in Germany. “Our common goal is to eliminate coverage gaps in the mobile network as soon as possible,” remarked managing director Dirk Wössner.
The approach, supported by the network regulator, seeks to meet coverage requirements without further straining the finances of network operators after they spent 6.5 billion euros ($7.2 billion) on frequencies for 5G services.
Vodafone Deutschland CEO Hannes Ametsreiter said hundreds of thousands of people in Germany will benefit from the shared infrastructure partnership. “Today, we are allying to combat dead spots and increase mobile communications coverage even in areas where it is not profitable,” he said in a prepared statement
According to Telefonica Deutschland, the coverage requirements were imposed on the network operators by the Federal Network Agency, or BNetzA, as part of the 2019 frequency auction, and require investments in the billions from the telco operators. The cooperation between the three companies serves to largely close white spots in sparsely populated regions and along traffic routes in an economically viable way.
The joint construction of additional radio masts and towers, as well as their technical connectivity and use, significantly enables them to save time and costs compared to an individual rollout. The companies involved will set up an equal number of new sites that all partners may use under the same conditions to set up their own antennas and network technology.
Further details of the cooperation are to be contractually agreed by the companies by spring 2020 at the latest. The joint network rollout planning could start soon thereafter. However, the operators expect opportunities for further expansion should also be available through relevant government aid allocated for eliminating specific coverage gaps.