More high speed for Germany:

Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland to cooperate over fast fibre-optic connections for mobile networks

Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland are planning to accelerate the connection of their mobile phone sites to fast fibre-optic cables. The two companies have agreed on a pilot project to connect parts of their mobile locations to each other’s high-speed backhaul broadband lines. As a result of the cooperation, even more customers will benefit directly from high-speed data coverage via LTE (4G). The networks will thus be able to transport data even faster from the respective mobile phone locations. The cooperation may also serve as a building block to better prepare the mobile networks for the future technology 5G. From July 2018, the first shared or neighbouring mobile phone sites will be connected to the respective fibre-optic networks. In a first step the two companies will connect around 100 locations. “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,” says Markus Haas, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Telefónica Deutschland. “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, explains: “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.”

Private customers and businesses benefit from faster broadband

The performance of mobile networks is significantly improved by fibre-optic backhaul connections, as the technology offers higher capacities and shorter latency times. As a result, even more mobile phone customers can access high-speed data coverage via the current LTE (4G) standard at the same time and benefit directly from an improved network quality. In addition, the new cooperation will also benefit Germany, as, with accelerated backhaul connections, Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland will take a joint step towards 5G – thus making possible applications such as autonomous driving.

Shared broadband connections planned for July 2018

Vodafone Campus in Dusseldorf, Photo: Vodafone
According to the agreement, as of July 2018 the first shared mobile phone locations will be connected via each partner’s broadband network. In a first step, as part of the pilot project, Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland intend to supply around 100 shared or neighbouring mobile phone sites with a fast broadband connection via fibre-optics. These include, for example, mobile radio masts or houses where both network operators have installed their respective antenna technology. In the case of shared mobile phone locations that have not yet been connected, the companies will install fibre-optic cables to the base stations in equal parts. In the case of existing fibre-optic connections that have so far been used by one of the network operators, a connection for the other network will be created on site. Technical equipment at both ends of each line ensures that the data traffic of the two network operators remains strictly separated. If the pilot project is successfully completed, the cooperation may be expanded: The two network operators share several thousand mobile phone locations throughout Germany and each have more than 40 million customer connections. The cooperation will involve the German Federal Cartel Office and the Federal Network Agency.

Agreement over 3.5 GHz frequencies

At the same time, the two network operators have concluded an agreement on 3.5 GHz frequencies, which can be used until 2021. Telefónica Deutschland has sold to Vodafone 42 MHz of spectrum in the 3.5 GHz frequency range, a part of its existing spectrum holding which is no longer in use. Telefónica Deutschland was the market leader in this frequency range with 84 MHz of spectrum and will continue to have a 42 MHz spectrum position after the frequency transfer. The parties have agreed not to disclose the financial details of the transaction. Vodafone may use the newly acquired spectrum to expand its network until the rights of use granted by the regulator expire in 2021. Due to the high frequency ranges at 3.5 GHz, very high capacities can be provided in a smaller radius at any one point in time. This makes the frequencies suitable e.g. for the future technology 5G.