O2 Germany boasts of 'pure 5G,' but concedes DSS need

Telefónica Deutschland (O2) appears to have taken a small pop at its German rivals for their use of dynamic spectrum sharing (DSS) to accelerate 5G rollout, while simultaneously admitting that it will probably be using the technology itself for similar purposes.

In an update of its 5G network progress, the operator employed the somewhat tired boast that it is deploying "pure 5G," implying that other 5Gs are somehow inferior. Here, Telefónica Deutschland is specifically referring to its deployment of 5G on the 3.6GHz band: "This is where 'pure 5G' differs from the combined 4G/5G via DSS, which is currently prevalent in other German 5G networks," the operator said.

Both Vodafone Germany and Telekom Deutschland use DSS to facilitate the rollout of 5G by sharing spectrum between 4G and 5G networks: Vodafone has deployed the technology to switch 700MHz frequencies back and forth between 4G and 5G, while Telekom Deutschland is rolling out DSS as part of a 5G expansion drive and is apportioning 5MHz of its 2.1GHz resource for 4G and 5G as needed.

Telefónica Deutschland, which has already said it would use DSS for deployment in rural areas, conceded it will use DSS for 4G expansion in "selected areas." The operator also appeared to indicate that its 5G deployment over 700MHz will be only partially pure, in order to accelerate expansion.

It's worth noting here that Nick Read, the CEO of Vodafone Group, has appeared skeptical about the use of DSS even though Vodafone has deployed it in Germany, the Netherlands and the UK. Neville Ray, president of technology at T-Mobile US, has also said the technology isn't ready for prime time – as rivals AT&T and Verizon roll it out.

Rolling, rolling, rolling out 5G

Meanwhile, Telefónica Deutschland claims it is on track to reach 50% of the German population with its 5G network by the end of 2022, with 30% set to be covered by the end of 2021. Its aim is to cover the whole of Germany by the end of 2025. The network was officially launched in October 2020. The operator also said it will spend €4 billion ($4.6 billion) on the 5G network by the end of 2022.

It has now deployed 3,000 antennas in the 3.6GHz band and said it is now adding around 180 new antennas a week. 5G smartphones now make up more than 50% of all end-user devices sold through O2's sales channels.

Want to know more about 5G? Check out our dedicated 5G content channel here on Light Reading.

The operator also claims to be technically ready to deploy 5G standalone technology and said it will deploy the network once there are enough compatible devices in the market, among other aspects. Telefónica Deutschland is working with Ericsson for its 5G core network, but noted that the deployment of open radio access network (RAN) technology will ensure access to a wider group of vendors.

Telefónica Group has just appointed NEC as systems integrator for open RAN trials in its four main markets of Spain, Germany, the UK and Brazil.

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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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