Grey Spots Initiative:Telefónica / O2 and Vodafone close further network gaps in rural areas

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Telefónica / O2 and Vodafone want to close several hundred so-called grey spots in the 4G network coverage for their customers before the end of the year. At the sites, the partners will share active network technology. In contrast to previous cooperations such as site sharing or the operator agreement to close white spots, this approach does not require the installation of a second separate radio technology or additional antennas. A corresponding letter of intent has now been signed by both companies. More than 98 per cent of households in Germany are now supplied with fast mobile broadband connections by every network operator. The trade magazine "connect" rates all of the mobile networks in this country as "very good". Outside residential areas and especially away from major traffic routes, however, not all operators have congruent network coverage. This creates so-called grey areas - areas where only one provider offers mobile network access for its customers. Especially in these less frequented areas, it is often uneconomical for operators to build separate infrastructures and operate them with their own network technology. The agreement concluded today between Telefónica / O2 and Vodafone aims to address this supply and economic gap: at several hundred locations where only one of the two cooperation partners currently ensures mobile phone coverage, the providers will grant each other mutual network access for their customers. This mutual use of the active network infrastructure, i.e. the transmission technology and antennas, is to be implemented before the end of the year. At the site, the operators will offer all customers fast 4G access on the 800 MHz frequency band.

Markus Haas
"Germany must become more digital. To achieve this, German consumers and the economy are demanding rapid progress in mobile communications coverage. This requires a joint effort by all stakeholders. The cooperative sharing of sites is an important step on this path and a good signal to Germany's mobile customers," says Telefónica Deutschland CEO Markus Haas on the occasion of the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding. "We are creating even more network with fewer masts: cooperations like these strengthen Germany's infrastructure - and bring reception even to places where it previously left much to be desired. All of this shows that whether in white or grey spots, network operators are moving closer together through fair partnerships for an even better network experience for all of their customers," said Vodafone Germany CEO Hannes Ametsreiter.

Operator initiatives for improved grid supply

Vodafone had already entered into a similar cooperation with Telekom last year to open up grey areas. For the development of previously completely unserved areas ("white spots"), the three mobile network operators active throughout Germany are already pulling together: in autumn 2019, they agreed on a deal for almost 6,000 new sites. Each operator builds on a pro rata basis and grants the other participants a right to use the resulting passive network infrastructure. In contrast to the cooperation announced today, only the structural infrastructures such as radio masts and power supply are shared in the white spots; the transmission technology and antennas are provided here by each operator independently.