Deutsche Telekom first to market in Germany with limited 5G rollout

FILE PHOTO: Brochures with the logo of Deutsche Telekom AG are pictured at the shop in the headquarters of German telecommunications giant in Bonn, Germany, February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) – Deutsche Telekom stole a march on its competitors by announcing a limited rollout of 5G services in its German home market on Wednesday, targeting urban users with the high-speed mobile technology.

Existing 5G trials will be opened up to public use in the German capital Berlin and in Bonn, where Deutsche Telekom is headquartered, with four more cities to follow this year. By the end of 2020, 20 German cities will have 5G coverage.

“We want to make 5G services available to customers as fast as possible,” Deutsche Telekom’s Germany head, Dirk Woessner, told a glitzy presentation in Berlin.

Deutsche Telekom bid 2.17 billion euros ($2.45 billion) for 130 Megahertz of the 420 MHz of 5G spectrum allocated last month in Germany’s longest-ever auction of mobile frequencies.

The market leader, which is partly state owned, had complained that the high cost of the auction had left a “bitter aftertaste” and would sap the ability of network operators to invest in costly network upgrades.

But it will still be able to plough 5 billion euros ($5.6 billion) this year into building out its network infrastructure, technology chief Claudia Nemat told the same briefing.

Deutsche Telekom is making 5G-enabled devices available to customers with immediate effect. It will bring 300 5G-enabled antennas into service this year, making use of its newly acquired 3.5 Gigahertz spectrum that is most suited to urban coverage.

More broadly, Deutsche Telekom will continue to build 2,000 new masts per year, bringing the total to 36,000 by the end of 2021, as it strives to meet strict coverage requirements set by the network regulator.

Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Tassilo Hummel and Thomas Escritt

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