1&1 launches 5G FWA, mobile service to follow later in the year


Supply chain issues resulted in Germany’s newest mobile network operator only narrowly meeting its goal of launching 5G services in 2022

This week, new German mobile operator 1&1 has announced the expansion of its 5G coverage with the activation of 50 additional 5G sites in Hamburg, Essen, Düsseldorf, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Munich, and Freiburg. These new sites will be used to make 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) services available to customers in those locations.

These new sites join the three already activated in Frankfurt am Main and Karlsruhe in the final days of December last year – three sites which crucially allowed 1&1 to claim to have met its goal of launching commercial 5G services by the end of 2022.

Mobile 5G services, however, will have to wait until later in the year, with 1&1 in fact lagging significantly behind its initial 5G rollout plans.

1&1 was originally aiming to have rolled out 1,000 5G mobile sites by the end of the 2022, as per its regulatory obligations, but in September the company moved to rein in these expectations, blaming a then-unnamed partner for delays that could take up to six months to resolve.

The partner in question was subsequently revealed to be Vodafone’s recently spun-off mobile tower company Vantage Towers.

As a result, in an update this week, the company said that just 235 sites are currently under construction, though CEO Ralph Dommermuth said he was confident that the company could still reach its obligated coverage target of 50% of all households ahead of its 2030 deadline.

Achieving such targets will reportedly require “around 12,600 radio masts and over 500 regional datacentres,” according to Dommermuth.

In the nearer term, 1&1 is required to have passed 25% of the German households by the end of 2025.

It is worth noting here that 1&1 is one of the few operators in the world building a network entirely on Open RAN architecture, with its network being build and managed by Open RAN specialist Rakuten Symphony.

Other vendors involved in various parts of the network include Dell, Supermicro, Cisco, Mavenir, Altiostar, NEC, and Communications Components (CCI).

As such, the performance of 1&1’s network will be closely scrutinised by the international telecoms community, with Open RAN advocates surely hoping it will prove something of a European trailblazer for the burgeoning technology.

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