5G competition ramps up in Germany with Vodafone covering 20 cities

Vodafone is making 5G moves in Germany, connecting more than 20 towns and cities with its next-generation service.

The company’s first 5G base stations were activated at an event in Düsseldorf in mid-July, with help from infrastructure partner Ericsson, the telecom equipment vendor announced Monday.

This comes as competitor and T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telecom (DT) earlier last month said it would start 5G antenna rollouts in six cities, with plans to cover the 20 largest cities in Germany with 5G over the next 18 months.

Vodafone Germany is using spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band and says its 5G service already covers the following towns, villages and regions: Aldenhoven, Altenberge, Birgland, Dortmund, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Hattstedt, Hesel, Karlsruhe, Köln, Lohmar, Mellenthin, München, Seehausen, Ratingen, Rielasingen-Worblingen, Roth, Wedemark, Westhausen and Würselen. The operator plans to expand 5G availability to additional areas later this month, according to a spokesperson.

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For its network in Germany, Vodafone has deployed Ericsson’s Massive MIMO AIR 6488 commercial hardware and Baseband 6630 from the Ericsson Radio System portfolio. According to Ericsson the 5G base stations are connected to the vendor’s 5G Evolved Packet Core Network.

“This 5G deployment marks yet another monumental launch for us, as the only vendor activating 5G at scale, globally,” said Arun Bansal, president and head of Europe & Latin America at Ericsson, in a statement.

Vodafone is also using equipment from Huawei in its 5G network in Germany, according to Reuters.

This summer, Vodafone Germany announced it paid €1.88 billion ($2.1 billion) at Germany’s 5G spectrum auction, picking up 90 MHz in the 3.6 GHz band and 40 MHz of 2100 MHz spectrum. DT, meanwhile, spent €2.2 billion ($2.5 billion) on 5G spectrum at the June auction.

RELATED: Germany ends 5G spectrum auction with €6.6B in bids

Vodafone’s July event in Germany demonstrated 1 Gbps speeds using Ericsson technology, including the Swedish telecom equipment maker’s 5G Radio Dots. Ericsson introduced the small cells in January 2018 to help operators deliver and upgrade to indoor 5G coverage using existing network infrastructure.

Swisscom was the latest carrier to announce it had deployed Ericsson’s 5G Radio Dots in the operator’s live commercial network.

Vodafone is also using Ericsson 5G equipment in other networks in Europe. In early July, Vodafone UK launched its 5G network in seven cities in the U.K., including London. In London Vodafone used gear from Ericsson’s 5G Radio System portfolio and tapped the vendor’s dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) technology.

RELATED: Vodafone goes live with 5G in London, 6 more U.K. cities

Vodafone also offers 5G roaming in the U.K, Germany, Italy and Spain, with more countries to be added to the carrier’s 5G roaming network as they turn on 5G.

DT said it would power on 5G first in Berlin and Bonn, followed by Darmstadt, Hamburg, Leipzig, and Munich.

While German operators are preparing and launching 5G, DT board member and managing director Dirk Wössner previously noted that the company’s LTE buildout is still a major focus. DT intends to roll out around 300 5G antennas in more than 100 locations, but also has plans to build about 2,000 new mobile LTE base stations this year, with hopes of eliminating white spots in rural areas.