Mobile operator Vodafone is making progress in expanding its 5G network. The company announced on Tuesday that an additional 13,000 5G antennas have been activated in the network since the beginning of the year. This means that more than 34,000 5G transmitters are now sending through Vodafone’s network. According to the network operator, it reaches about 55 million people in the country.
At Vodafone, as at Telekom, most 5G expansion is carried out using Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS), where LTE and 5G share the available frequencies. 5G uses LTE interconnection frequency to connect to the core network. The advantage of this method is that the 5G network can be expanded relatively quickly and easily in all areas.
5G+ aka Standalone
But Vodafone is also making progress in expanding its 5G “Pure” technology. 5G Standalone (5G SA) does not require anchor frequencies, but new antennas must be installed for expansion. Vodafone calls it “5G +” and, according to the information, already reaches about 15 million people in the country.
“We are building new stations, updating existing antenna technology, and enabling 5G in more and more locations,” says Tanya Richter, chief technology officer at Vodafone. “In many places, we are completely decoupling the 5G network from the existing infrastructure, which provides very fast network response times.”
Vodafone is also working on LTE expansion to expand capabilities and close dead spots. Since the beginning of the year, the company has completed 4,200 construction projects, and the number of construction projects is expected to reach 3,000 projects by the end of the year. By mid-2023, Vodafone also wants to build twelve new masts in the Bavarian Alps to improve mobile coverage there.
This is also reflected in the amount of data transmitted over the network. Because of 5G, the network operator expects more acceleration. In the 5G network, Vodafone now transmits about eight times more data than last year: according to the information, it was 1,500 terabytes in the last week of June alone.
Telekom and Telefónica . are also being built
Meanwhile, the competition does not stand still. Deutsche Telekom has expanded its mobile offerings at 855 locations nationwide in recent weeks. In addition to 194 new LTE sites, the Bonn-based company introduced additional capacities at 538 sites and expanded 5G in 123 sites.
Telekom is also expanding primarily with DSS and is now making 5G available at 3.6MHz at more than 2,000 locations in urban areas. “Currently, more than 100,000 antennas are transmitted at more than 34,000 locations in the Telekom network,” says Telekom Technology Director Walter Goldenits. It also uses the frequency spectrum at 700MHz. By 2025, 99 percent of households will be able to surf Telekom’s 5G network.
According to Telefónica Deutschland (O2), half the population has been connected to 5G since June. “We have therefore achieved our 5G expansion target for 2022 six months earlier than planned,” says CEO Markus Haas. By the end of the year, Telefónica now expects to cover 60 percent of the population. Munich residents also want to offer 5G to all residents by the end of 2025.
There are currently more than 14,000 5G antennas in the O2 network, about 6,000 of which operate at the 3.6GHz frequency. In addition, Telefónica is relying on the 700MHz spectrum for expansion, with which 5G is also being offered in more rural areas. The network operator only uses DSS with a frequency of 1800MHz as an extension.
Network operators like to talk about coverage among residents and prefer not to say anything about area coverage. According to figures released by the Federal Network Agency in April, Telekom supplies nearly 90 percent of the region in Germany with LTE, with Vodafone at 87 percent and with O2 nearly 85 percent. Telekom covers 46 percent of the area with 5G network and 41 percent for Vodafone. O2, which began expanding later and uses less DSS, accounts for nearly 12 percent of the area.
1 & 1 in starting blocks
Meanwhile, a fourth network operator is ready to create its own network. 1&1 bought spectrum for LTE and 5G networks in the 2019 frequency auction. One of the expansion requirements for the Federal Network Agency is that the newcomer must operate the first 1,000 5G antenna sites by the end of the year. The construction of the network is scheduled to begin in the current third quarter of 2022.
1 & 1 builds 5G network with Open RAN and builds on the expertise of Japan’s Rakuten Group. Meanwhile, the new network operator has secured several locations for the American and Vantage towers, and service provider Dortmund is developing its own antenna systems. Sister company Versatel and various regional carriers ensure connectivity.
“The expansion has already begun and the first decentralized antennas and data centers have been put in place,” a 1&1 spokeswoman explains. “Now we will need a few months to start operating all the jobs.” To begin network operations, 1&1 will initially offer a fixed mobile connection to households (Fixed Wireless Access, FWA).
The new 1 & 1 mobile network will open next year. “We are planning for summer 2023,” the spokeswoman says. To operate the phone, the network must be connected to other local and international networks. The roaming agreement with Telefónica Germany will fill in the many gaps that the new network operator will still have.
“All preparations are underway and we are confident that we will be able to meet the requirement to provide for 50 percent of German households by early 2030,” a 1&1 spokeswoman explains.
Additional 1 & 1 info added.
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