O2 takes 5G to Germany’s biggest cities

Telefónica Germany says it is beginning a new era in mobile telephony in the country, allowing users to have ‘completely new dimensions of digitisation’ with next-generation networks

In a move that it says will “kick-start data turbo for digitisation” of Germany, Telefónica Germany has launched 5G across the country’s five largest cities – Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Frankfurt and Cologne – under the O2 brand.

The telco says the O2 core brand is setting a sign for digital progress and mobile freedom, and in a “symbolic virtual act” marking the 30th anniversary of German reunification, is opening up 5G access to all consumers.

The company has invested €4bn in the network expansion, which will be complete by 2022, and the switch-on comes only about a year and a half after its success in the frequency auction. This compares with four years for 3G and two years for 4G, and with a larger scale for 5G.

O2’s 5G network will start with about 150 stations in Germany’s five largest cities, which means nine million people will be able to experience 5G from O2 in their city. The company will push ahead with its 5G expansion in big steps over the coming months, offering services at 3.6GHz frequencies.

O2 Germany promises to bring 5G to more and more cities and especially to rural areas in a short period of time. To get residential customers into the area much more quickly than in the past, it will use a spectrum of technologies, and promises to give business customers “clear” competitive advantages through the virtualisation of its 5G core network.

Initially, O2 will offer the industry-standard 5G maximum speed of 300Mbps, enabling customers to use all applications, but in the future, 5G technology will enable faster data rates, up to a top speed of 20GBps.

As the network evolves, O2 Germany plans to develop the new mobile phone standard gradually towards real-time communication, thanks to shorter reaction times. This, it says, will enable applications such as augmented and virtual reality to reach their full potential.

Looking to capture the potential of the internet of things (IoT), O2 said its 5G network will give industry and medium-sized companies new momentum for modern production and logistics processes. Up to a million devices per square kilometre can be connected with 5G, and Telefónica Germany/O2 says this will enable companies to convert their production to be fully digital and fit for the future.

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To simplify the construction of 5G networks for industry, that company said it is increasingly focusing on cloud computing and virtualisation. The net result with cloud-based 5G networking is that companies will be able to bring their products to market sooner and more cost-effectively and increase their profitability, said Telefónica Germany/O2.

The move is “democratising” high-tech, said Telefónica Germany/O2 CEO Markus Haas. “Our O2 mobile network connects more than 43 million customers and so most people in Germany,” he said. “Therefore, we have a special responsibility to kick-start the data turbo for digitisation of Germany. 5G is crucial for our digital future.

“5G is becoming a huge efficiency lever in the economy and ensures competitiveness. The Industry 4.0 concept, with the digital factory, intelligent energy networks, networked driving and smart cities, can now become reality in Germany.”

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