Deutsche Telekom offers 5G tech in five cities via 129 base stations


German telco Deutsche Telekom announced that its 5G network is already operational in the cities of Berlin, Bonn, Cologne, Darmstadt, and Munich.

5G services in these five cities is being currently offered via 129 5G antennas. Deutsche Telekom also said that it is gradually expanding its 5G network clusters in these five major cities.

The German carrier expects to provide 5G coverage in the cities of Hamburg and Leipzig before the end of this year. A total of 300 5G base stations are expected to be deployed before the end of 2019, the telco said.

By the end of 2020, at least 20 of the largest cities in Germany are to be connected to the 5G network, according to Deutsche Telekom.

“We’re starting off where data usage is high and are establishing continuous coverage areas in these places. After all, it’s not just about having 5G show up on screen – it’s about experiencing the real strengths of 5G from the very start,” said Walter Goldenits, CTO at Telekom Deutschland.

“We want to build up as much experience as possible in terms of transmission planning during the initial expansion stage in 2019. We’re learning more with every single antenna we set up and adjust,” the executive said.

The telco said that its 66 base stations in Berlin are currently serving the districts of Schöneberg, Mitte, and Kreuzberg. Over the next 18 months, Berlin’s 5G network is set to grow continuously, spreading in the west of the city from Charlottenburg and Ku’damm to the Messe Berlin exhibition center. In the east and north, Deutsche Telekom is extending the area to cover Alexanderplatz and the government district toward Prenzlauer Berg and the Charité university hospital, the company said.

The carrier also highlighted that there are 12 new antennas providing 5G coverage in Cologne. Planned expansion in Cologne is to take place in the entire city center with its shopping streets and residential areas, as well as the MediaPark, the Deutz side of the Rhine around the exhibition center, and the promenades on both sides of the Rhine. By the end of 2019, Deutsche Telekom will set up a total of 90 5G base stations in Cologne.

In Munich, 5G is being provided via nine 5G antennas. By the end of the year, Deutsche Telekom expects to deploy a total of 50 5G base stations across the city.

In Bonn, the telco has deployed a total of 24 5G base station, with the goal of deploying a total of 40 by the end of the year. In Darmstadt, 5G coverage is being provided by a 5G network which currently comprises 18 base stations.

“To begin with, we are using 4G locations for 5G, as the new technology is being synchronized and brought to the network via LTE. You could say that 5G is piggybacking on LTE,” Goldenits said. “When it comes to achieving rapid expansion, we appreciate the support of city and municipal authorities, particularly in terms of securing approvals quickly.”

Apart from the rollout of new 5G base stations, the German telco announced plans to expand LTE infrastructure across Germany. There are plans to set up approximately 4,000 new LTE mobile base stations in 2019 and 2020, half of which will be located in rural areas. Deutsche Telekom also said that it aims to extend LTE coverage to 98% of the population by the end of the year.

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In the race to 5G, don’t overlook the continued importance of 4G

5G is the hot ticket item for mobile operators at the moment – we hear about its legendary fast speeds, its ultra-low latency and its ability to handle network congestion in a way we simply haven’t experienced with 4G. However, despite all the hype, we’re likely still a good few years away from a realistic future where that’s the case. However, surely we should be building for a new and exciting 5G future rather than trying to shore up legacy technology?

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple – and it’s far too soon to label 4G as an “old” technology. To begin with, it’s worth noting that as recently as 2018, GSMA reported that 4G was responsible for 43% of total connections, with 28% on 3G, and 29% on 2G. By their estimates, in 2025, 5G will only be responsible for 15% of connections, with the vast majority still on 4G. Even in North America, which is predicted to have the highest percentage of 5G connections, 44% will still rely on 4G.

This may in part be due to some of the limitations of 5G technology. The millimeter-wave technology that is near-synonymous with 5G will deliver additional capacity and enable super-fast speeds; however, it will be limited to short-range broadcasts, requiring direct line-of-sight to the cell, without the interruption of obstacles like windows, walls, or trees. Deploying 5G on sub-6GHz spectrum will aid the coverage component, of course, but even as 5G networks grow, they will remain complemented by 4G. Even the current 5G deployments are non-standalone and require 4G connections to “pass along” the connection onto 5G. With this in mind, even as investment pours into 5G planning, infrastructure and marketing, it’s important not to overlook the short term, realistic improvements that 4G can still offer.

For example, in Germany, Deutsche Telekom recently deployed over 300 LTE sites across the country, extending LTE service to 51,000 households that had previously only had 3G connectivity. As a result of the change, we observed a drop in average latency from 63 ms to just 24 ms in one of the municipalities (Kaufungen in central Germany) where the sites were deployed. What would such a decrease in latency translate to? Likely a significant improvement for making video calls or competitive video gaming over a mobile connection.

Worldwide, operators have spent the last few years installing LTE-Advanced technology like carrier aggregation and MIMO in tens of thousands of markets. Those upgrades have driven a steady global improvement in wireless speeds; moreover, the majority of handsets in use are compatible with at least some LTE-Advanced features, compared to the handful that support any 5G frequencies at all. 

Maintaining a widespread and high-quality 4G network is also important for minimizing the rural/urban divide. Not only are the majority of current and planned 5G deployments focused on large urban areas, but historical trends suggest that urban users will adopt 5G-compatible devices more rapidly. Research suggests that rural residents in the US are the least likely in America to own a smartphone, indicating a general trend where rural areas are slower to adopt new technologies. Meanwhile, other research suggests that overall people are now keeping their phones longer – just short of three years for iPhones – meaning that we are least three years away from most consumers having 5G compatible devices. In truth, even three years is likely ambitious – 5G compatibility is by no means an “as standard” feature in new handsets and is more likely to come to higher-end devices first. Ensuring continuous, high-quality 4G services for sub-urban and rural areas, as well as consumers who, in general, want to upgrade less often and don’t necessarily want to pay extra for a premium device, will be important to that nobody gets left behind on the path to a more connected, faster mobile future.

The potential of 5G is beyond doubt, but we’re likely a decade away from when mobile users can expect a reliable 5G connection regardless of where they are. Meanwhile, 5G connections will be of most use for emerging use cases – autonomous vehicles, smart factories, or extremely intensive mobile gaming – rather than usual smartphone use-cases. For the foreseeable future, 4G and 5G will be forced to coexist, and operators must ensure they keep their eye on improving the 4G experience, even as they plan for the 5G revolution.

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Kagan: What to expect as Altice Mobile enters wireless

First, Comcast entered the world of wireless a few years ago with Xfinity Mobile. Then, a year later Charter entered with Spectrum Mobile. Since that time, we have been waiting for Altice to enter and that’s just what they did recently with Altice Mobile. Let’s take a close look at the cable television based wireless offerings and see what we can expect from Altice.

I attended their conference call introducing Altice Mobile and to tell you the truth, I was pleasantly surprised, delighted and a bit skeptical. If they can live up to what they outlined, this could be a successful competitor in the wireless world. However, it will depend whether the marketplace accepts them.

That means their marketing, advertising, messaging and branding will be key. Other new wireless competitors simply haven’t broken into the marketplace in a substantial way. Will Altice Mobile will be different? They think so.

Altice Mobile will resell AT&T Mobility and Sprint

Presenting on the announcement were CEO Dexter Goei, COO Hakim Boubazine and Lisa Anselmo, Head of Communications.

The first surprise was they will resell the wireless services from AT&T Mobility and Sprint. That’s good news because while Sprint has plenty of spectrum, they are bottom of the list of top four wireless providers. Until yesterday, we were expecting Altice Mobile would just resell Sprint.

However, during the call, they surprised me by saying they will resell both AT&T Mobility and Sprint. That’s great news for them. This puts them on the radar.

This means they will resell the “Best Wireless Network” with AT&T, as we recently learned from the latest Global Wireless Solutions study. Plus, they will have Sprint spectrum if needed. This is a good combination.

Altice Mobile costs $20 or $30 per month

Second, the service is affordable. Existing Altice customers will just pay $20 per month per line for unlimited talk, text and data. That is lower than Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile, who resell Verizon Wireless. Non-Altice customers will pay $30 per month. However, you must be in the Altice market area either way.

Third, there are no long-term contracts with the service.

Fourth, they didn’t discuss 5G, so I don’t imagine that service will be offered initially. This will likely be added over the next few years. This is the same with Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile.

Altice Mobile offers unlimited voice, text, data

Fifth, I asked about their unlimited data and what the top limits are, before the customer gets throttled to a slower and unusable speed. They said there are no limits. If true, that’s an exciting position as well.

Sixth, they also said they would be profitable within a year. If so, that would be amazing since Xfinity Mobile loses money for Comcast month after month. Comcast does not focus on profitability. They use wireless as one leg of their stool to hang onto their existing customers.

Altice Mobile says they expect to be profitable in a year. They say they entered the US marketplace for cable TV three years ago, but they have been in other countries doing the same thing for quite a long time.

Altice Mobile has wireless experience in other countries world-wide

They also said they resell wireless in other countries as well. So, they know what they are doing. And they fully expect to be profitable within a year.

This all sounds too good to be true compared to other cable TV companies. Now we wait and see if they can convince the marketplace with advertising, marketing, messaging and branding.

While I would love to see that and would be happy to tell the world of their success, since I have watched Xfinity Mobile and Spectrum Mobile for the last couple years, Altice Mobile will have to prove it before I can believe it. That being said, this sounds like an interesting company to follow as it enters wireless.

Wireless industry continues to grow and change with 5G

With all that said, the wireless industry continues to grow and to change. New competitors keep entering and changing the paradigm. It is exciting to see how wireless and 5G will change the marketplace.

Like with Xfinity and Spectrum, this is an opportunity for Altice to stabilize their customer base and to add a new slice of the pie and be profitable all at the same time.

So, to Altice Mobile, welcome to the wonderful world of in the USA. The industry continues to grow and to change. The leaders of today like AT&T Mobility and Verizon Wireless will likely remain leaders going forward. However, there is always room for another successful competitor and reseller.

I wish you much success and look forward to following you and seeing how well you do in the US wireless marketplace going forward.

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