German operators band together to meet coverage obligations

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Deutsche Telekom (DT), Telefónica Germany and Vodafone Germany will collaborate to expand their networks across the country.

The plan is to provide "the best possible coverage" where there is none or it is poor, which includes rural areas and alongside roads, railways and rivers.

According to a statement by DT, the coverage requirements imposed on network operators by the regulator, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) as part of the 5G spectrum auction earlier this year, will cost billions of euros.

This is on top of the €6.5 billion they spent collectively in licences in the auction.

Between them, the three operators plan to build up to 6,000 new mobile sites.

Equal obligations

1&1 Drillisch, which became Germany’s fourth mobile operator as a result of the 5G spectrum auction has been invited to join this collaborative effort, on the proviso it contributes as much as the others in the rollout plans.

The joint construction of extra radio masts and towers, as well as the necessary backhaul, will save all parties time and money, compared with them each doing it individually.

The companies are to set up an equal number of new sites for all partners to use under the same conditions as if they set up their own antennas and network technology.

The full details are to be agreed upon and contracted by spring 2020 at the latest and it is expected that the joint network planning will begin almost immediately.

Similar approach

This is a similar approach to that taken in the UK to bring coverage to rural areas, by the four mobile operators . If it is approved, which looks likely, they too will share the cost of building out new towers and the supporting infrastructure for them all to use.

However, in the UK, each will contribute a different amount, based on the size and reach of their individual networks.