The operator is bolstering its LTE spectrum in preparation for pulling the 3G plug on the 30th of June
Vodafone Germany is reportedly increasing the bandwidth of its LTE network by refarming and incorporating the 2,100 MHz spectrum it currently uses for 3G services.
Last summer, the operator announced that they would switch off 3G services on the 30th of June 2021. The operator said that it would gradually refarm 3G spectrum in order to increase the capacity, speed, and coverage of their 4G network, which already reaches nearly 99% of German homes. At the time, Vodafone claimed that only around 5% of its data was carried over 3G, a figure which has since decreased to around 2%.
The operator also noted that all of its plans already include 4G access at no additional cost, hence customers will not face any new fees.
Now the process of beginning the spectrum refarming is thoroughly underway and is expected to increase the company’s 2,100 MHz bandwidth by 5 MHz. Coupled with the additional 5 MHz of spectrum that Vodafone won at the German spectrum auction in the summer of last year, and this will take the company’s total LTE bandwidth to 20 MHz.
Initial tests of the switchover process are taking place for 35,000 residents of Suhl, the first city that will experience the change.
Similar 3G switch offs are taking place all over Europe at varying speeds. In Germany itself, the Deutsche Telekom has previously agreed to cooperate with Vodafone Germany in switching off their 3G network on the 30th of June, while Telefonica Deutschland will take a little longer, planning to end 3G service by the end of 2022.
Vodafone Germany says their LTE network upgrade is already underway, with 17,000 out of a total of 18,000 mobile sites already being prepared for the shutdown.
All three operators also joined forces back in 2019 to co-ordinate the 6,000 radio sites across Germany, which they will then share, in an effort to eliminate 4G ‘white spots’, where customers had access to none of their networks. Last month, they took this network sharing one step further, agreeing to a bilateral active sharing agreement covering 1,200 sites and targeting ‘grey spots’, in which customers currently only had access to services from one of the three operators.
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