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Telekom Deutschland plans 3G sunset in summer 2021

Operator curiously claims 3G is headed toward a 'well-earned retirement.'

Ken Wieland

September 21, 2020

2 Min Read
Telekom Deutschland plans 3G sunset in summer 2021

Telekom Deutschland has said it will shut down its 3G network on the same day as local rival Vodafone Deutschland: June 30, 2021.

Telefónica Deutschland, Germany's other major mobile network operator, plans to close down its 3G network before the end of 2022.

The idea in each case is to refarm 3G spectrum in the 900MHz and 2.1GHz frequency bands in order to shore up capacity in 4G and 5G networks.

3G smoke gets in my eyes
Telekom Deutschland appeared to get a little teary-eyed and sentimental about the prospect of saying goodbye to 3G. After its some 20-year service stint, Germany's incumbent declared that 3G was now headed for a "well-earned retirement."

Bean counters at Telecom Deutschland could well be forgiven for raising an eyebrow or two. Germany's auction of 3G spectrum raised an astonishing $48 billion, arguably setting the industry back years in terms of network investment. For its part, parent company Deutsche Telekom shelled out nearly $7.7 billion. 3G, for many, was a huge and over-priced disappointment.

Dirk Wössner, Telekom Deutschland's outgoing CEO, glossed over any 3G regrets that the operator's top brass might be harboring.

He talked about making 4G available for "everyone" – 3G customers can apparently upgrade to 4G tariffs without paying more – and building what he called Germany's "largest 5G network."

Let's talk about 5G
With the help of Dynamic Spectrum Sharing (DSS) tech and low-band 700MHz frequencies, Telekom Deutschland, in July, claimed its 5G signals reached 40 million people (around half of Germany's population).

Vodafone Deutschland is aiming to reach 10 million people with 5G by the end of this year, and then double that number by the end of 2021.

Although its 5G coverage is not as expansive as Telekom Deutschland's, Vodafone Deutschland – as far as Light Reading can tell – makes more use of higher frequency bands in its 5G and DSS mix, including 1800MHz and 3.5GHz. Although not as good for coverage as 700MHz, they can support faster speeds.

Telefónica Deutschland appears not so gung-ho on the next-gen tech. Although the operator recently claimed it was preparing 5G network rollout in Germany's "top five" cities, it appeared in no rush.

Huawei's uncertain RAN fate in Germany might be a reason for caution. Although Telefónica Deutschland has signed preliminary contracts with Nokia and Huawei for 5G RAN kit, CEO Markus Haas claimed supplier contingency plans were in place in the event that Germany decides to give Huawei the elbow.

— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

About the Author(s)

Ken Wieland

contributing editor

Ken Wieland has been a telecoms journalist and editor for more than 15 years. That includes an eight-year stint as editor of Telecommunications magazine (international edition), three years as editor of Asian Communications, and nearly two years at Informa Telecoms & Media, specialising in mobile broadband. As a freelance telecoms writer Ken has written various industry reports for The Economist Group.

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