Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland have launched a pilot project to connect parts of their mobile infrastructure to their rival's fibre network.
The operators are initially targeting the connection of around 100 shared or neighbouring sites, which should be switched on from July this year. This will be split between building new fibre links to unconnected shared sites, with both operators splitting the cost, or building a connection from one operator's fibre lines to the other.
They said the collaboration would result in better quality coverage, higher capacities and lower latencies for both of their customer bases. However, data transmitted will be kept completely separate from one operator's rival.
Both operators already share several thousand sites across the country and have more than 40 million customer connections in total. If the pilot is successful, the telcos said it could be extended to other parts of Germany.
Markus Haas, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Telefónica Deutschland, said: “The planned cooperation is good for our customers and good for Germany.
With joint forces, we are able to drive the backhaul broadband connection necessary for high-speed networks in mobile communications more quickly and efficiently.
“In this way, we are improving the network quality of Telefónica Deutschland's newly integrated network while preparing our network for the future technology 5G. Our mobile network will thus form the optimal foundation for our customers’ mobile freedom.”
Hannes Ametsreiter, CEO of Vodafone Germany, said: “With this pilot project we are taking a clever path: On the one hand, we are driving home even more capacity to the Vodafone network, which already delivers the highest peaks regarding speed in the market. On the other hand, the project is another possible building block in our 5G strategy for building the network of tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Telefónica Deutschland has sold Vodafone 42MHz of spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, which it no longer uses. Vodafone will have rights to use the spectrum until its licence expires in 2021.
Following the deal, which was for an undisclosed sum, Telefónica Deutschland will continue to hold 42MHz in the band.