German company United Internet’s CEO, Ralph Dommermuth, said that the construction of subsidiary 1&1 Drillisch’s 5G network would experience delays due to current measures adopted in the country to prevent a further spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany, local paper Handelsblatt reported.
The executive noted that the closure of some government building is currently delaying some key permits for the carrier to install the fiber optic network needed as backhaul for the new 5G network.
United Internet is one of Germany’s largest internet service providers and currently offers fixed and MVNO services for residential users under the 1&1 Drillisch brand, using Telefonica’s network. The carrier did not indicate how long the delay would be, nor offer an anticipated completion date.
The German government had decided to shut down non-essential services across the country with the aim of preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In December 2019, 1&1 Drillisch signed an agreement to lease 5G spectrum from Telefonica Deutschland, a unit of Spanish telecom giant Telefonica, until its allocation in the 2 GHz band was available in 2026.
This agreement involves two frequency blocks of 10 megahertz each in the 2.6 GHz band. The agreement is based on a self-commitment by Telefónica as part of the EU antitrust approval of the merger with E-Plus in 2014. The two frequency blocks will be available to 1&1 Drillisch until December 31, 2025.
At the auction of spectrum in the 2 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands, which ended in June 2019, 1&1 Drillisch acquired a total of two frequency blocks of 10 megahertz in the 2 GHz band and five frequency blocks of 10 megahertz in the 3.6 GHz band. While the 3.6 GHz spectrum is already available, the frequencies in the 2 GHz band will not be operational until January 1, 2026.
According to previous reports, 1&1 Drillisch expects to launch its 5G network in 2021.
The most active German telco in terms of 5G deployments is Deutsche Telekom, which ended 2019 with a total of 450 5G base stations across the country.
By the end of 2020, the number of 5G sites is expected to climb to nearly 1,500. During 2020, Deutsche Telekom said it aims to provide 5G technology in the country’s 16 state capital cities.
In June 2019, rival telco Vodafone started to activate the first antennas for 5G networks in the cities of Cologne, Dusseldorf, Hamburg, Dortmund, and Munich.
Vodafone’s 5G network infrastructure is expected to reach 10 million users by the end of 2020, and 20 million by the end of 2021, according to previous reports.
Vodafone Germany continues to pursue a dual-vendor strategy for its networks, with gear from Chinese vendor Huawei and Sweden’s Ericsson.
Telefonica Deutschland, which operates under the O2 brand, had selected Nokia and Huawei as the vendors for the deployment of its 5G network. The operator’s management said it hoped that Nokia and Huawei would build the Telefonica Deutschland 5G Radio Access Network on a 50-50 basis.
Telefonica said it expected to have 5G up and running in Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Cologne and Frankfurt by the end of 2021. A year later, 30 cities with a population of 16 million would be covered by 5G technology.