First European mobile network based on innovative OpenRAN technology successfully launched
- 1&1 proves: OpenRAN is a mature technology and is functional in customer operations
- Genuine high-speed 5G through the use of gigabit antennas connected directly to fibre optic networks
- Initial operations in Frankfurt/Main and Karlsruhe
- Strengthening of the hardware and software ecosystem for open, non-proprietary, high-performance networks that are now beginning to appear
- Rollout of 12,600 antenna sites and more than 500 regional data centres
Montabaur, 3 January 2023. Germany followed Japan and the USA with the launch of an innovative OpenRAN mobile network on 28 December 2022. For the first time in the world, an OpenRAN system based solely on the cloud began operating with direct utilisation of 4G and 5G wireless technology.
Open, standardised interfaces of the OpenRAN technology allow the combination of components from any manufacturer, liberating 1&1 from the innovation cycles of any specific outfitter. Initially, servers from DELL and Supermicro, routers from Cisco, software from Rakuten, Mavenir and Altiostar and antennas from NEC and Communications Components (CCI) will be used, making 1&1 the only mobile network operator in Germany that does not utilise Huawei antennas.
“The commissioning of our OpenRAN network underscores our position as pioneers who now provide evidence in Germany that the world’s most modern network technology is fully functional”, notes Ralph Dommermuth, CEO of 1&1 AG, in his enthusiasm about the start of the network launch phase. In addition to the first three antenna sites in Frankfurt am Main and Karlsruhe, construction of another 50 radio masts in cities such as Hamburg, Essen, Düsseldorf, Wiesbaden, Mainz, Munich and Freiburg has been completed and the facilities will gradually begin operation in the next few weeks.
All 1&1 radio masts are equipped with gigabit antennas and connected exclusively by optic fibre networks to regional edge data centres operating standard servers. Short distances between antennas and edge data centres ensure very short data runtimes and real-time capability throughout the network. The market practise of using only software updates to update 4G antennas to the 5G radio standard without any increase in performance, a step that is subject to criticism, is not followed by 1&1.
The convincing results of the friendly user test, which has been running since August 2022, opened the door to the operational launch of the new network “1&1 5G at home” — a product that replaces conventional DSL, cable internet or fibre optic home lines. Smartphone rate plans will follow in the summer and coincide with the scheduled provision of national roaming services by Telefónica. National roaming is a common practise during the construction of new mobile networks that allows customers to surf the internet and make phone calls without interruption in areas not yet covered during the construction phase of the new network. Antennas of the roaming partner are automatically used in these areas.
After last year’s surprising delivery delays impacting 1&1’s most important development partner, 1&1 has restructured its rollout process and now expects the steady addition of new antenna sites. At this time, 235 sites are under construction, and the first interim target of 1,000 radio masts should be achieved in the course of the year. “Despite delays in recent months, we still want to meet our obligation to cover 50 percent of all households by the end of 2030 ahead of schedule”, adds Ralph Dommermuth. “We expect to achieve this goal by commissioning about 12,600 radio masts and more than 500 regional data centres.”
The affiliate 1&1 Versatel is in charge of connecting the facilities to the fibre optic network. The company has at its disposal one of the largest German fibre optic networks for connecting data centres and antenna locations and can draw on its many years of expertise in the operation of telecommunications networks and data centres.
About 1&1 AG
1&1 AG is a listed telecommunications provider domiciled in Montabaur. The Company is a member of the United Internet AG group. 1&1 offers its customers a comprehensive portfolio of mobile and broadband access. Moreover, other portfolio components are attractively bundled into mobile and fixed network products and added-value applications such as home networking, online storage, video on demand, smart home solutions or IPTV. While the 1&1 brand addresses value and premium segments, the Group’s discount brands appeal to price-conscious target groups.
Following the successful participation in the 5G frequency auction, the newcomer and fourth German network operator 1&1 is establishing the first Europe-wide, fully virtualized mobile network based on the innovative OpenRAN technology.