Deutsche Telekom plots 99 per cent 5G coverage by 2025

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Deutsche Telekom has set a 5G coverage target of 99 per cent of Germany’s population and 90 per cent of the country’s landmass by 2025, with its 4G network achieving the same levels by 2021.

Speaking at a 5G end user conference in Berlin, company CEO Tim Höttges detailed an eight-point programme for 5G deployment that will see the continued rollout of fibre, the construction of more mobile infrastructure, and industry partnerships.

Deutsche Telekom 5G

"The digitalisation of Germany is a challenge for our society as a whole," he said. "Our part is the networks. We take this responsibility seriously, which is why we are focusing on investment, innovation, and partnerships.

"Everyone wants to be in the high-speed network – across all levels of society. That's what drives us. Deutsche Telekom is ready for 5G. We're working hard on the network roll-out in both the fixed and mobile networks. And we will live up to our responsibility for Germany's digital future. We're building the network for everyone."

Deutsche Telekom plans to invest €20 billion in infrastructure before 2021, including in 2,000 new antenna sites a year. It currently has 27,000 but wants the figure to increase to 36,000 to support 5G.

Network investment

It is also expanding its fibre footprint to boost fixed line connectivity to customers but also to improve the capacity of its 5G network. Currently, it has 500,000 km of fibre serving more than 24.4 million households with speeds of up to 100Mbps. The plan is to increase this to 28 million and 250Mbps by 2019.

Once all of Deutsche Telekom’s base stations are connected to fibre, they will be able to power the first tranche of 5G applications, such as Narrowband-IoT (Nb-IoT). Trials of 5G in Berlin are already taking place, with speeds reaching 2Gbps.

But the company is eager to work with other parties in the rollout. Deutsche Telekom has granted Telefonica access to the fibre network for mobile backhaul while there are plans to offer rental space in masts to other operators – a move which could aid rural coverage.

Deutsche Telekom will focus on cities, towns, major road and rail routs in its rollout and says it will cover rural areas “when it makes sense to do so.”

"Industry associations, network operators, government, and research all have to get on the same page,” continued Höttges. “We should be talking to each other instead of talking about each other, to ensure that the framework for 5G is built as solidly as possible and meets the needs of industry.”

Germany’s main competition administrator had hoped that a fourth player would be able to participate in the German auction of 2GHz and 3.6GHz 5G airwaves in early 2019 in order to challenge the ‘big three’ of Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica.

All three companies voiced their opposition, arguing it would discourage investment, and it appears as though the auction will go ahead without any major modification.