German operator 1&1 reportedly signalled plans to accelerate construction of the market’s long-awaited fourth mobile network, pledging to activate 1,000 5G base stations this year.

Ralph Dommermuth, CEO of 1&1 parent company United Internet, told Die Welt newspaper the fledgling fourth German mobile operator will initially provide 5G fixed wireless access services (FWA). He indicated next-generation services for smartphone customers will become available from around the middle of 2023.

The operator is obliged to provide at least 1,000 base stations this year under the terms of the 5G frequency licence it obtained in 2019. The 1&1 network must then reach at least 25 per cent of German households by the end of 2025 and at least 50 per cent by end-2030.

1&1 currently provides mobile services to around 11 million customers, primarily via a wholesale arrangement with Telefonica Deutschland (O2).

Since it acquired the 5G spectrum, 1&1 has been selecting partners for the construction of its new network.

For example, the newcomer recruited Rakuten Group to design, build and operate a fully virtualised mobile network based on open RAN technology.

1&1 will also lease the fibre access and data centre network of 1&1 Versatel Deutschland, an indirect subsidiary of United Internet. Furthermore, it has signed a long-term tower rental agreement with Vodafone Group’s Vantage Towers AG.

Until the 1&1 network has been completed, customers will be able to use the Telefonica network under a national roaming agreement.

In December 2021, United Internet reported it expected to spend around €70 million on 5G network construction in 2022, compared with around €40 million in 2021.

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