German operators beat their own 5G targets

Two of Germany's big mobile operators are very excited to have beaten their own targets for 5G network rollout.

Mary Lennighan

November 1, 2022

3 Min Read
German operators beat their own 5G targets

Two of Germany’s big mobile operators are very excited to have beaten their own targets for 5G network rollout.

While that’s clearly a positive thing, for operators and customers alike, there is an element of plucking the low-hanging fruit here; targets for nationwide 5G coverage remain unchanged.

But first the good stuff. Telefonica’s O2 has covered 75% of Germany’s population with 5G, it revealed this week, which is some way ahead of its goal of hitting half of the people by year-end; in fact, it reached the 50% milestone back in July.

The company says it is focusing in particular on the 3.6 GHz band, providing high speeds in densely populated areas, in this case cities like Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Cologne, but also noted growth in 700 MHz-based 5G, which is enabling it to reach rural areas. However, it did not disclose how much of that 75% population coverage comes with 3.6 GHz and how much with longer-reaching 700 MHz.

“We are bringing the new high-speed mobile network to more and more cities and, above all, rural regions even faster,” said Telefonica Deutschland CEO Markus Haas, in a canned statement that also included the usual superfluous comments on the telco’s role in digitising Germany as a whole.

It’s not the only one though, of course. Vodafone Deutschland chose the same day to announce that its 5G network now reaches 60 million people – a rough calculation suggests that’s a couple of percentage points below 75 percent of the population – and that too is ahead of expectations.

Rather charmingly, Vodafone attributed its success to the meteorological conditions experienced over the past month.

“Vodafone used the good weather at the beginning of autumn to further strengthen its mobile network,” it said, in a German language statement that included details of its overall network build, including new sites. In all, Vodafone says it eliminated 107 dead spots in mobile broadband coverage nationwide in October.

“We have reached our 5G expansion target for 2022 ahead of time: Our 5G network already reaches more than 60 million people,” said Tanja Richter, the telco’s Chief Network Officer. “The real-time network 5G+ (standalone), which above all brings lightning-fast response times to the network, has already been activated for more than 20 million people,” Richter added.

Vodafone had previously announced that it would hit the 60 million mark with 5G by 2023. It did not provide any further details about its rollout going forward, which suggests that any existing 5G targets still stand.

That is certainly the case for O2, which reiterated a goal it has held for at least six months; it aims to cover the entire population of Germany with 5G by the end of 2025. So while customers living in easy-to-reach areas might have gained access to a 5G network sooner than they had expected, nothing changes for those in the most difficult locations.

But perhaps that shouldn’t cloud the main message here, which is that telcos are really pushing on with 5G rollout…however we might feel about the endless and highly-vocal competition over who has the broadest network or who gets to a certain market first.


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About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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