Mobile networks cooperate to close thousands of dead signal zones in Germany
Patchy signal and stuttering internet on mobile phones is the bane of many people’s lives in Germany. In a bid to improve coverage, three of the country’s biggest mobile network providers are cooperating to close so-called “dead zones”.
Mobile phone operators cooperating to improve coverage
Since 2020, Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone have been cooperating on a network-sharing agreement, which improves coverage by allowing one network’s customers access to the other’s antennas in patchy signal areas, and vice versa. According to the two networks, they have managed to close more than 2.000 “grey spots” in this way over the last year.
A “grey spot” is an area where only one of the three German network operators is transmitting, meaning customers of the other two networks have no signal.
Back in 2020, the deal between Telekom and Vodafone was met with anger by Telefónica (O2), a third major operator in Germany, which had concerns about unfair competition. After the Federal Cartel Office stepped in, the two companies agreed to also include Telefónica in the alliance, to further improve coverage for more customers across the country.
6,44 percent of Germany affected by dead signal zones
While managers from Vodafone and Telekom say they are satisfied with the progress of their cooperation, progress with Telefónica has so far been slow, with just “preparations for implementation underway.”
Nonetheless, the operators are optimistic that they will be able to close a further 1.000 grey spots by the coming summer. A Telefónica spokesperson said that the first cooperation locations would be activated in the coming months, giving Vodafone and Telekom access to around 2.000 antenna sites. In return, Telefónica gets access to the same number of antenna locations from its competitors.
Around 6,44 percent of Germany is still covered by dead signal zones, according to data from the Federal Network Agency. However, an indication of progress can be seen from the fact that this figure was 0,36 percentage points higher in October 2021.