Germany’s 1&1 warns of a six-month delay in 5G buildout

German greenfield operator 1&1 AG warned that it won’t met its target of installing 1,000 5G antennas sites by year-end and blamed one of its three vendor partners for the delay. The company said that it now believes that it will achieve its 1,000-site deployment goal by mid-2023.

1&1 said in a statement that two of its vendors have been delivering according to plan but the third vendor, which is committed to providing about two-thirds of the 1,000 antenna sites, is having problems meeting its obligations.  

1&1 also said that it is working with its other partners to try to minimize that delay and added that it believes it will still be on track to meet its goal of covering 50% of Germany’s households before the end of 2030.

Missing its year-end target of 1,000 5G antennas is significant because the Federal Network Agency, which is the German regulatory body that manages the country’s radio spectrum and spectrum licenses, established that buildout requirement for 1&1 when it obtained its 5G spectrum licenses in 2019.  

“This target is achievable in principle, but quite challenging for a new entrant,” 1&1 said in its statement.

When it launches its 5G network, 1&1 AG will be Germany’s fourth mobile operator and like Dish Network in the U.S., it will launch a virtualized 5G network using open RAN technology. Although the company didn’t identify which vendor is responsible for the delay, it has previously said that it selected Rakuten Symphony for its software and system integration.

Plus, in April American Tower revealed in its Q1 2022 earnings that it had signed a tower deal with the 1&1. 1&1 also issued a press release saying that it had signed a “framework contract” to lease antenna sites from American and that American will provide 1&1 access to its sites for installation of 1&1’s antennas.

Likewise in December 2021 the company  announced that it was working with Vantage Towers and would have access to at least 3,800 and potentially up to 5,000 existing sites throughout Germany.

1&1 said it is planning to initially provide 5G fixed wireless access (FWA) service with speeds up to 1 Gbps in December and then offer mobile services to smartphones about six months later. And the company also said that the construction delays will not impact its planned launch date.