Deutsche Telekom will use low-band spectrum to boost rural 5G

Deutsche Telekom (DT) is enhancing its 5G coverage in rural Germany by deploying standalone 5G (SA) on its low-band 700MHz spectrum. DT said that the company has already switched on its SA network over 700MHz and customers should see better speed and improved indoor coverage.

The operator is using 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band exclusively for 5G. It deployed more than 3,000 antennas at 1,100 locations and all are using 700MHz frequency band. The company noted that when 5G is deployed in the 700MHz band, the signal can reach a radius of three to six miles, depending upon the geography. This means that 5G will be available in areas that previously didn’t have a signal.

DT has already deployed SA in its 2.1GHz and 3.6GHz spectrum and has more than 67,000 5G antennas in use across its network. In its mid-band spectrum (3.6GHz), DT said it has coverage in more than 400 cities and towns. Overall, DT says it provides 5G coverage to more than 92% of Germany’s population.

The company said that devices are already in use that are compatible with the 700MHz spectrum band, including the Samsung Galaxy S22 series as well as smartphones from Xiaomi, Oppo and the Fairphone 4.

DT was awarded the 700MHz spectrum during an auction in 2015. The spectrum had to be cleared for use by the end of June 2020.

Other countries are using 700MHz spectrum for low-band 5G. Spanish telco Telefonica started activating 5G using its 700MHz spectrum in February and plans to reach 1,400 cities and towns in Spain with 700MHz 5G by year-end. Likewise, Vodafone Spain started deploying 5G in the 700MHz band earlier this year.

In the U.S., T-Mobile, which is partially owned by DT, uses primarily 600MHz spectrum for its low-band 5G network but it is rapidly deploying 5G in its 2.5GHz spectrum. T-Mobile has said it will cover about 260 million people with mid-band 5G at year-end, up from 225 million today.