So-called ‘grey spots’, where customers only have access to a single mobile operator, still cover roughly 6.44% of Germany

Back in 2019, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone Deutschland, and Telefonica Deutschland signed a joint agreement to tackle areas of Germany with no 4G coverage at all, known as ‘white spots’. This encompassed the building and sharing of around 6,000 new mobile sites around the country, though only the sites’ passive infrastructure was included; each operator still had to provide their own antennas and transmission technology. 

By 2020, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom had announced a further partnership, this time aiming to combat ‘grey spots’ around the country, thereby increasing the customers choice from a single network provider to two. Through this partnership, the two operators began to share access their active network infrastructure at selected sites.

This network sharing deal is limited to primarily rural areas, leaving the operators free to focus on their individual network builds in more competitive areas.

In 2021, Telefonica Deutschland was added to the sharing agreement, pleasing the Federal Cartel Office, which had feared that Telefonica’s exclusion from the previous deal could prove anticompetitive. 

It is perhaps due to Telefonica’s later inclusion in this network sharing deal that Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom already appear to be pulling ahead in filling in filling in the targeted grey spots. This week, the two operators have announced that they have closed roughly 2,000 grey spots around the country since summer 2021.

Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom contributed roughly 1,000 mobile sites each in reaching this total.

When the pair first signed the deal in 2021, they said they were aiming to close roughly 3,000 grey spots in total, hence we can expect roughly 1,000 additional locations to be opened up later in the year.

Telefonica, meanwhile, has yet to start its network sharing in earnest. The company is expected to open roughly 2,000 of its sites in the coming months, some of which will be made available to Vodafone and others to Deutsche Telekom. 


What impact is network sharing having on Germany’s 4G landscape and what implications will this have for the nation’s 5G networks? Find out from the operators themselves at this year’s live Connected Germany event

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