Deutsche Telekom updates 15K antennas to 5G

Deutsche Telekom
Technicians are upgrading more sites to 5G. (Deutsche Telekom)

It’s a big week for Deutsche Telekom engineers who are busy outfitting 15,000 additional antennas in Germany with 5G. The upgrade is being done via software.

Large cities such as Nuremberg and Hanover are among those getting the update, as well as rural areas like Schwanebeck in the Harz Mountains and Westerland on Sylt.   

Right now, DT’s 5G focus is on the 2.1 GHz and 3.6 GHz bands, which complement one another in terms of range and speed, according to the company. The 15,000 new antennas are transmitting on the 2.1 GHz frequency.

The operator reports that in rural areas, the network is achieving more than twice the speed than previously, with customers experiencing speeds up to 225 Mbps. In cities, the network reaches 600-800 Mbps at its peak.  

DT is very confident in its network leadership in 5G in Germany, DT CEO Timotheus Höttges told analysts during the company’s first-quarter conference call. That’s due to in part to its spectrum position, as well as the speed and commitment it has regarding the 5G rollout, according to Höttges. DT has four times more coverage of the German population than Vodafone, its biggest rival in Germany.

The 5G rollout has not been slowed by the COVID-19 crisis. Last month, DT announced that more than 16 million people in Germany can use its 5G network, with plans to cover up to 40 million people by mid-July.

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While other countries have banned equipment from Huawei, DT continues to use radio access network (RAN) gear from existing 4G suppliers Ericsson and Huawei. The U.S. has campaigned globally for allies to exclude Huawei from 5G networks, citing national security concerns.  

DT previously explained that when it comes to antennas, it’s technically impossible to upgrade 4G components from one manufacturer to 5G from another vendor. To that end, the operator’s completed new 5G RAN contracts with both Ericsson and Huawei.

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As for the core network, DT decided last year to phase Chinese suppliers out of that, including for 5G. The core handles data processing and is seen as more security sensitive than the RAN portion, but also less lucrative in terms of operator spending for vendor contracts.