Deutsche Telekom has announced plans to speed up its broadband expansion even further. As part of their efforts, the company will increasingly partner with other companies that are investing in broadband upgrades. “The digitalization of Germany is a challenge for our society as a whole,” said CEO Tim Höttges in Berlin. “Our part is the networks. We take this responsibility seriously, which is why we are focusing on investment, innovation, and partnerships.”
Deutsche Telekom has submitted an eight-point plan for a fast, successful launch of 5G. It includes a proposal to offer 5G coverage to 99 percent of the population by 2025. The company is also taking a major step in area coverage, targeting 90 percent 5G coverage by 2025. This level can be achieved with 4G in 2021. The coverage rate for telephony services is even higher.
“We’re breaking with industry tradition and also talking about coverage in less-populated areas,” said Dirk Wössner, Board member for Telekom Deutschland. Deutsche Telekom’s plans for the 5G expansion include cities, towns, autobahns, main roads, and train paths. Business parks and schools are also part of it. “More than 30 percent of Germany’s land is forested. When it makes sense to cover these areas with 5G applications, we’ll do so,” continued Wössner. In rural areas, the company plans to offer rental space in all its transmission towers to interested third parties.
5G opens up a new dimension of digitalization
“Everyone wants to be in the high-speed network – across all levels of society. That’s what drives us. Deutsche Telekom is ready for 5G,” said Höttges. “We’re working hard on the network roll-out in both the fixed and mobile networks. And we will live up to our responsibility for Germany’s digital future. We’re building the network for everyone.”
The Group will invest 20 billion euros in Germany by 2021. To ensure that business, industry, and the general public get the best possible 5G network, Deutsche Telekom will also team up with partners. “Industry associations, network operators, government, and research all have to get on the same page! We should be talking to each other instead of talking about each other, to ensure that the framework for 5G is built as solidly as possible and meets the needs of industry,” continued Höttges. To this end, he referred to the recently concluded agreement with competitor Telefonica, which enables Telefonica to use Deutsche Telekom’s fiber-optic network to connect its own mobile base stations. In the fixed network, Telekom has already partnered with local providers such as EWE TEL and municipal utilities. Please find the full eight-point program here.
Fiber roll-out for the future
Deutsche Telekom’s optical fiber backbone is the foundation for high speed in both the fixed and mobile networks. Walter Goldenits, CTO at Telekom Deutschland, joined the technology team in laying the 500,000th kilometer today in Aegidienberg (North Rhine-Westphalia). It currently serves 24.4 million households with surfing speeds of up to 100 Mbit/s and more over the fixed network. Already 50 Mbit/s are enough to stream two 4K movies at the same time, leaving around 20 Mbit/s to spare for gaming, surfing, telephony, and smart home applications.
Top speeds of up to 250 Mbit/s are already available to around ten million households in Deutsche Telekom’s fixed network. The Group installed 1.3 million new lines with this speed in the third quarter alone. They aim to offer speeds of up to 250 Mbit/s to 28 million households in 2019.
To connect as many people as possible to the fast network and as quickly as possible, Deutsche Telekom is initially installing fiber to the curb. In a second step, the optical fiber is extended from the curb to the home. “We understand why some people criticize our approach. But we stand behind our intention of giving broadband to as many people as possible. Of course we could have installed fiber to the home directly, but due to the shortage of underground construction capacity and the high investments needed, we’d only be serving 20 percent of households at most, instead of the 80 percent we do now,” said Wössner. “We didn’t decide against a specific technology, but instead in favor of covering millions more households. Now we’re looking further ahead.”
Deutsche Telekom is laying fiber to the home (FTTH) already – in business parks and for private households. “Starting in 2021, we aim to connect up to two million FTTH lines per year. We’ve reached the home stretch in installing fiber to the curb and will then start the next stage,” said Wössner.
27,000 antenna sites are being prepared for initial 5G applications
Fiber is also the foundation for the future 5G communication standard. Around 22,000 mobile base stations have already been connected. Once the current round of modernization is complete, all mobile base stations will be equipped to run initial 5G applications such as the NB-IoT. Deutsche Telekom has laid the groundwork for this over the past 18 months with the largest modernization of its mobile network in the company’s history. With 5G, the future network will have transmission speeds up to ten times higher than today. What’s more, the network will respond nearly in real time.
To provide even more coverage for Germany and its residents, Deutsche Telekom is also speeding up the installation of new antenna sites. The company currently operates 27,000 of them and will be adding at least 2,000 each year. Their number will reach 36,000 by 2021. The sites already use an advanced technology called Single RAN (Single Radio Access Network, abbreviated S RAN). Its major advantage: Frequencies can be split flexibly and dynamically on demand. S RAN technology is already capable of supporting the first 5G applications.
“We’re ideally prepared for 5G, through the combination of fiber connections and modernization of our base stations,” said Claudia Nemat, Board member for Technology and Innovation. “Our hefty investments in recent years are becoming noticeable. In the first stage, 5G will primarily enable high-speed networks for industry. Our campus network with our partner Osram is a pioneer here. We’ve teamed up to test the smart factory of tomorrow, with autonomous transport systems controlled by an extremely reliable high-performance network.”
Campus networks for industry are an important use case for LTE evolving to 5G. In this approach, the network within a clearly delineated area, such as an industrial campus, is tailored precisely to the customer’s needs. Throughput, latency, reliability, security, IoT device management, and other service quality aspects are guaranteed for the customer.
Deutsche Telekom has begun testing a first campus network together with its customer Osram at their factory campus in Schwabmünchen, Bavaria, on the basis of LTE. The company intends to deploy mobile robots as autonomous guided vehicles to transport materials within the factory. The campus network will guarantee flexible, modern real-time production, thanks to a combination of LTE, edge computing, and artificial intelligence technologies.
5G in Berlin
Deutsche Telekom already has all the components needed for 5G at its disposal. The Group is currently building an entire 5G test cluster in the heart of Berlin, and has completed several successful tests in recent months. The cluster is already giving Deutsche Telekom valuable insights for the future 5G infrastructure. The network in the Schöneberg and Mitte boroughs achieves transmission speeds of two gigabits per second and a latency of three milliseconds.