The newest German mobile operator says its 5G network deployment has been negatively affected by Vodafone and Vantage Towers expansion limiting their access to 5G sites

Back in 2021, 1&1 Mobilfunk, the new mobile arm of 1&1 AG, announced it had struck a deal with Vodafone’s recently spun-off tower unit, Vantage Towers. The agreement covered the shared use of 3,800 existing mobile, as well as additional sites that were due to be built in 2022.

However, by the end of 2022, 1&1 claimed that Vantage Towers’ expansion was moving far slower than expected, with 1&1 reporting just five 5G antenna sites in operation.

As such, at the end of 2022, Vantage Towers announced a new rollout plan, taking into account the most recent delays.

However, in a meeting yesterday between Vodafone, Vantage, and 1&1, the infrastructure company reportedly revealed that it no longer expected to hit these revised targets an warned of further delays.

“In particular, the expansion targets planned in the first quarters of 2023 are to be significantly missed. An end to the preference for Vodafone’s expansion activities at the expense of 1&1 network construction at Vantage Towers still does not seem foreseeable,” explained 1&1 in a statement.

1&1 says that this delay could impact their planned launch of commercial mobile services in Q3 this year, noting that while a delayed launch would not result in “significant financial repercussions” the company was “eager to avoid any unnecessary delays.”

As a result, 1&1 says it will file a complaint to the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) regarding the ‘ongoing obstacles’ it faces in the rollout of 5G, due to the actions of Vodafone and Vantage towers.

The plot thickens yet further when we consider that Vodafone is currently lobbying the Federal Network Agency to simply allocate highly valuable low-band spectrum to Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefónica, forgoing the traditional spectrum auction.

Vodafone claims that this will allow for a more efficient 5G rollout across the country, ensuring German customers receive improved coverage more quickly.

Furthermore, as part of the argument, Vodafone has questioned whether 1&1 has any need for low-band spectrum, given the undeveloped nature of its mobile network.

1&1, on the other hand, says that this delay is caused in no small part by the ‘probable obstructions’ caused by Vodafone and Vantage Towers.

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