Focus on "pure 5G" over 3.6 GHz frequency Fast O2 network expansion:50 per cent 5G coverage by the end of 2022
One year after the 5G launch, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 confirms its expansion plans for the latest mobile communications standard: the O2 network will cover over 50 percent of the German population with 5G by the end of 2022. The company is also on track for the end of 2021 and continues to target coverage of over 30 percent. The basis for this is the high investment programme with a volume of around four billion euros until the end of 2022. In the expansion of the new mobile technology, the focus is on so-called "pure 5G" via the most powerful 3.6 GHz frequency. The 3,000th 3.6 GHz antenna just went live in the O2 5G network. Meanwhile, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is installing around 180 of these 5G antennas in the network every week, tendency further increasing. The company is expanding 5G twice as fast overall compared to 4G and is fully on track to supply all of Germany with 5G by the end of 2025.
On 3 October 2020, the symbolic 30th anniversary of German unity, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 CEO Markus Haas had launched the company's 5G network in an official ceremony in Berlin together with Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, who was virtually present. Three days later, the 5G product launch took place in the first O2 Free contract tariffs. In the meantime, 5G is included at no extra charge in almost all O2 Free contract tariffs for new and existing customers. "As with 2G, 3G and 4G, we are also bringing 5G to mass market readiness in Germany through rapid network expansion, network investments in the billions and products with the best price-performance ratio," explains CEO Markus Haas on the first anniversary of the 5G launch in the O2 network. "Since the beginning, we have aligned the 5G roll-out with the concrete benefits for private customers and businesses. This is the most effective way for us to drive forward the urgently needed digitisation for business and consumers. Today, one year after the launch, our 5G network is already live in a hundred cities. And current international tests confirm that it is the fastest 5G network in Germany. Now we will also quickly bring the O2 5G network to the area."
Market penetration with 5G picks up speed
The added value of 5G for private customers in this early expansion phase, beyond the performance advantages, lies primarily in the additional network capacities provided by the new mobile communications standard. In the first half of 2021, the O2 mobile network transported 1 billion gigabytes of data, an absolute record. Cities are data traffic hotspots. The growing number of urban 5G users is increasingly shifting parts of this data traffic to the 5G network, thus relieving the 4G network. In this way, the O2 5G network also ensures a consistently good network experience for 4G users of all Telefónica Deutschland / O2 brands and partner brands. Market penetration with 5G is visibly gaining speed. In the meantime, 5G smartphones account for more than 50 percent of all end devices sold through Telefónica Deutschland / O2 sales channels. In line with this, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is now moving the 5G network expansion more strongly into the area. Here, too, the telecommunications company is focusing on so-called "pure 5G" via the 3.6 GHz frequency. In the future, it will provide private and business users with multiple gigabit data speeds and response times (latency) of just a few milliseconds. This is where "pure 5G" differs from the combined 4G/5G via Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), which currently prevails in other German 5G networks. 5G shares lower frequency bands with 4G at comparable performance levels. Where it is a useful 4G extension in selected areas, the company will also use Dynamic Spectrum Sharing. In addition, it is partially rolling out 5G purely over the 700 MHz frequency to accelerate area rollout and lay the groundwork for the upcoming 5G Stand Alone in the O2 network. The first sites are already live.
Setting the course for 5G Stand Alone
Telefónica Deutschland / O2 is continuously increasing the clock rate of its 5G expansion despite parallel major projects such as the 3G switch-off and densification of the 4G network. In addition, the company has set the course for its 5G network of the future in the last twelve months. Telefónica Deutschland / O2 was the first German network operator to bring the innovative open architecture Open RAN for the mobile access network out of the laboratory and into live operation. The conversion of further stations to Open RAN will start before the end of this year. It will give the company greater flexibility in the choice of manufacturers and, as a primarily software-based solution, simplify and accelerate the upgrading of base stations. In addition, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 achieved the first frequency bundling in the 5G live network in this country via carrier aggregation, which further accelerates 5G for customers and ensures a stable high data throughput. The O2 network also recently saw the German premiere of the first voice call directly via the 5G live network. These 5G calls do not take a diversion via the 4G network and thus no longer interrupt ongoing 5G data connections. Finally, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 now operates an independent 5G core network. The company has thus created the basis for freeing the new network standard from its technical dependence on 4G and placing it on its own feet as a so-called "5G Stand Alone". In future, this will enable private and business customers to use even the most demanding 5G applications. Technically, the company is already in a position to roll out a nationwide 5G Stand Alone network. As soon as 5G Stand Alone offers real added value for customers, it will activate the technology, for example when enough end devices in the market support 5G SA. Directly in the first 5G year, Telefónica Deutschland / O2 has started to move the O2 5G core network for industrial applications to the cloud. This significantly simplifies the establishment of 5G campus networks, accelerates the introduction of new industrial applications for companies and shortens the time to market for new products and applications.
With 5G to the greenest network
The rapid expansion of the 5G network helps Telefónica Deutschland / O2 to pursue its corporate goal of offering its customers the greenest mobile network in Germany by 2025. 5G transmits significantly more energy-efficiently than the predecessor standards. The conversion of 3G to 4G and 5G network technology alone will reduce the power consumption of the O2 network by up to 90 percent per transported byte. In addition, the company will make a significant contribution to achieving Germany's climate targets overall. Its 5G network will pave the way for digital solutions and all-round connectivity, helping other industries to save CO2 emissions and develop sustainable business models.