Telefonica improved their roaming offer earlier this month after the European Commission (EC) stepped in

Today, 1&1 Drillisch has announced that it has accepted the terms of Telefonica Germany’s latest roaming agreement, which will allow it to use Telefonica’s network for coverage while it builds its 5G network.

Reaching this agreement has been a lengthy process, one which Ralph Dommermuth, Chief Executive of United?Internet, Drillisch’s parent company, has called “the mother of all battles”. Speaking during an earning’s call in August last year, Dommermuth said that Drillisch had initially planned to have all network sharing agreements finalised by the end of September 2019 but, almost a year later, and the operator had yet to secure roaming deals with its competitors. 

Dommermuth noted at the time that the deals were the final piece of the puzzle, the “last thing we need to get started” on the construction of their own 5G network.

The primary flashpoint was a potential increase in wholesale prices being imposed in 2020, which Drillisch argued were not justified. Telefonica stuck to its guns, however, with independent expert opinion finding that the price raises were fair. The EC was ultimately drawn into the conflict to mediate.

Some progress was initially made back in October last year, when Telefonica made an initial offer to Drillisch. However, this offer was deemed by the EC to be not fully compliant with Telefonica’s commitment to supporting virtual operators, stipulations the operator had agreed to as part of its acquisition of E-Plus.

Last week, Telefonica revised its offer following the EC’s comments. The new deal, according to the EC, is “competitive and in good faith”, helping to nurture competition within the German mobile market. 

Today, Drillisch has accepted the national roaming agreement Telefonica is proposing. The contract will last for five years, backdated to July 2020, and can be extended twice. Drillisch will begin to migrate customers to its own 5G network as it becomes available, with the roaming agreement giving its customers nationwide coverage until then.

The deal will finalise in mid-May of this year.


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