1&1 Mobilfunk, a subsidiary of German telecom operator 1&1 AG, has announced that it is filing a complaint with the Federal Cartel Office. From 1&1's point of view, the complaint will be subject to persistent obstacles to the expansion of its 5G mobile network by Vodafone. 1&1 wants to be an independent fourth German telecom operator and is currently building its Network. 1&1 competitors include Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica Deutschland (O2), and Vodafone, and currently, 1&1 uses Telefonica Network but wants to build its own Network and operate independently.
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1&1 agreement with Vantage Towers
In 2021, 1&1 agreed with Vantage Towers, 81% owned by Vodafone, to share 3,800 existing antenna sites with the 1&1 Network. However, the contract terms have expansion targets for 2022 which 1&1 claims were completely missed by Vantage Towers. As a result, 1&1 says at the end of 2022, it only had a total of five 5G antenna locations, partly provided by Vantage towers.
According to 1&1, Vodafone plans and develops the German antenna locations of Vantage Towers for joint use by other network operators and, in contrast, had 1,600 5G antenna locations based on the infrastructure of Vantage Towers at the end of 2022.
At the end of 2022, Vantage Towers introduced a fresh rollout plan. 1&1 says, however, during a joint meeting between Vantage Towers, Vodafone, and 1&1 representatives on Thursday, it was announced that there would be further delays and that the new rollout plan will not be adhered to.
"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," says 1&1 in its release.
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1&1 also said, "It is doing everything possible to build its new mobile Network quickly. However, the latest setback in receiving antenna locations from Vantage Towers may have an effect on the planned 3rd quarter 2023 launch of mobile services on the 1&1 Network. This is particularly concerning because the necessary technical certification processes occasionally require a minimum number of antenna locations. Consequently, 1&1 is assessing the timeline for further network expansion. While a slightly postponed network launch would not result in significant financial repercussions, the company is eager to avoid any unnecessary delays."
Simultaneously, Vodafone calls the Federal Network Agency to forgo the typical award process for the forthcoming frequency allocation, particularly to allocate the important low-band frequencies to established network operators, such as Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom and Telefonica, without an auction for further years.
1&1 says, "Vodafone does not mention that the low level of expansion of the 1&1 network is largely due to Vodafone's likely obstructions in the development of Vantage Towers antenna locations."