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1&1, Orange seal worldwide international roaming agreement

German startup telco and global operator take advantage of 5G OpenRAN technology to offer users seamless automatic network performance and quality, even when outside home territory

Following the trend to use next-generation communications technology to extend services across international borders, 1&1 and Orange have concluded a long-term agreement to provide international roaming services for the 1&1 mobile network.

After its successful participation in Germany’s 5G frequency auction, 1&1 is a new entrant and fourth network operator in its domestic market. Part of the United Internet group, 1&1 offers customers a portfolio of wireless services and broadband access including bundled products comprising mobile and fixed-network services, as well as value-added applications such as home networking, online storage, video on demand, smart home solutions and IPTV.

Taking advantage of what it claims to be Europe's first fully virtualised mobile network based on OpenRAN technology, 1&1 said the partnership with Orange will enable it to provide customers with reliable mobile services when they travel abroad. It will aim to take advantage of Orange’s global reach and its particular expertise in roaming and sponsored telecommunications platforms.

Under the new partnership, 1&1 customers will have access to all international roaming services based on Orange’s worldwide roaming footprint. These services use what the companies describe as “state-of-the-art” roaming technologies – including 5G and VoLTE. With Orange, 1&1 benefits from a one-stop shop roaming experience, an immediate roaming coverage and a customised roaming solution providing an array of value-added services and anti-fraud systems.

“By joining forces with Orange, we have gained a strong and well experienced partner for international roaming that will enable us to automatically offer to our customers excellent network performance even when they are abroad,” said 1&1 CEO Ralph Dommermuth. “The 1&1 OpenRAN will launch its broadband services for the home at the end of this year, followed by the mobile services in the summer of 2023. All roaming services will be available as of this point.”

Michaël Trabbia, interim CEO at Orange Wholesale & International Networks, added: “We are very proud to bring our strong expertise and extensive roaming coverage to the new 1&1 OpenRAN mobile network in Germany. Thanks to this partnership, 1&1 will benefit from our customised and innovative roaming model for mobile operators.”

The announcement comes just days after international connectivity and 5G enabler BICS revealed that it had successfully set up the first-ever intercontinental 5G standalone (SA) roaming connection completed in a non-lab environment between two live networks in Europe and the Middle East.

The connection demonstrated successful roaming between Belgian mobile operator Proximus’s 5G SA network and Middle East-based digital solutions and telecoms provider STC Kuwait’s 5G SA network. In 2021, STC was the first operator in its country to launch 5G SA technology and with this latest demonstration, the firms say they have reached a landmark moment for the readiness of international 5G SA services and use cases.

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