Telekom, Vodafone and O2 fail to meet network specifications

Dusseldorf For years there has been a dispute over the quality of mobile communications in Germany. The federal government wanted to create the exemption in 2015. With the award of the mobile radio frequencies in 2015, it imposed targets for minimum coverage on the three network operators. Now the network agency is determining: No company has met the requirements.

The deadline had actually expired at the beginning of this year. The Federal Network Agency had taken the time to understand the results. Authorities chief Jochen Homann made a clear announcement to the public on Tuesday: “We want to see verifiable improvements over the next few months that will ensure that the requirements are fully met by the end of the year.”

On top of that. “This expressly includes the fact that we may impose fines and fines,” said Homann

The Federal Network Agency set goals in 2015. This includes that by the beginning of 2020, 98 percent of all households in Germany and 97 percent of households in each federal state must be supplied with a data speed of at least 50 megabits per second (Mbit / s) and antenna sector. In addition, motorways and rails should also be fully supplied.

Connection and data interruptions while driving on the main traffic routes should actually no longer exist in Germany today. But the reality is obviously different. The results at a glance:

Deutsche Telekom

Even the industry leader was unable to meet the requirements. According to the network agency, Deutsche Telekom “narrowly missed” the requirements in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. The main traffic routes were also not completely supplied. The authority reported a value of 97 percent for motorways and 96 percent for railways.

At the end of 2019, there was still some catching up to do in the federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland, Telekom admitted on request. A spokesman said the company is continuously expanding its network. “We have now also exceeded 97 percent in Saarland,” said the spokesman. In addition, Telekom had the best network in the mobile radio tests of the magazines “Chip” and “Connect” for the first quarter of 2020.

Telekom admitted that there was room for improvement in the motorways and railways. There is a plan to supply the routes completely. However, the approval of the necessary locations for cell towers is a challenge.

Telekom Germany boss Dirk Wössner complained: “We are already expanding beyond our commitments and could already have an even higher LTE coverage today if it were not so difficult to get new antenna locations and obtain permits in many places.”

Vodafone

The authority accused the network operator of not complying with the requirements in four federal states. These are Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland. In addition, the network agency found that only 96 percent of motorways and railways were only 95 percent supplied.

A spokesman for Vodafone said there was a “difference of opinion” between the company and the agency about the interpretation of the supply requirements. Since the beginning of the year, the network operator has “implemented” 2400 LTE construction projects. “We are therefore confident that we will also comply with the stricter interpretation of the Federal Network Agency,” said the spokesman.

Telefónica Germany

The network operator behind the O2 brand was by far the bottom of the review by the Federal Network Agency. In all 13 federal states, the supply requirements were not met. In addition, only about 80 percent of the main traffic routes are supplied.

Handelsblatt learned that the Federal Network Agency Telefónica has therefore set tight partial deadlines. In order to meet the requirements, 7600 mobile phone locations would still be necessary, it says in a letter to the advisory board of the Federal Network Agency. By the end of June, Telefónica is to build 40 percent of the locations. The share should increase to 65 percent by the end of September and all necessary locations should be established by the end of the year, the authority dictated to the company.

A Telefónica spokeswoman said: “We have presented a clear plan on how we will achieve the missing percentage points from the expansion requirement of 2015.” The company is convinced that it can fulfill the plan. “It is in our own interest to provide large parts of the population and area with mobile communications as quickly as possible,” said the spokeswoman.

The consequences

The Federal Network Agency requires network operators to report each month how many mobile phone locations they have put into operation. The authority wants to check this information on a random basis. Otherwise, the authority faces fines.

More: Actually wants 1 & 1 Drillishly become the fourth network operator in Germany. But the corona virus becomes a problem – and there is more.

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Boom through home office: tech companies are reaching their limits

Dusseldorf, San Francisco Since Anton Döschl has been working in the technology sector, he has experienced a number of special situations, such as the CeBIT at their weddings or the financial crisis in 2008. The past few weeks have been “probably the most intense” in his career, says the manager. He is responsible for the IT group Cisco Sales and advice on communication and collaboration solutions, including the Webex system. And that is in demand more than ever.

Because public life is severely restricted by the coronavirus epidemic, companies send their employees to their home offices and connect them with video conferences and virtual meetings. Authorities, medical practices and schools are also dealing with the technology. Many of them contact Döschl and his team. “The number of strokes has increased enormously.”

While work is breaking out in large parts of the economy, tech companies such as Cisco, Microsoft, Zoom and Teamviewer, which offer systems for virtual collaboration, are experiencing a special boom. The situation is similar with network operators like that Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone or Telefónica. Worries about a bottleneck or failures make the round.

In a conversation with the Handelsblatt a few days ago, Telekom boss Timotheus Höttges gave the all-clear: “Our network runs completely smoothly without a single major failure.” Telekom had to upgrade in some places and the fixed network in particular was in demand again.

The head of Telekom, on the other hand, saw difficulties elsewhere: “There are some services, such as video conference providers, that are reaching their limits in terms of their capacities. Sometimes it’s the capacity of corporate networks. But it’s not because of the telecommunications networks. “

While the mobile and broadband networks have so far been able to withstand the rush, there are difficulties in their places. Technicians have to upgrade the data centers regularly, the sales representatives handle the mass of inquiries.

Sometimes the systems reach their limits. Even social media like Facebook and Twitter have been in demand for a long time. The corona crisis is a technical test – but when it pays off economically is open.

Video conferencing is becoming the norm

Webex is a platform through which users can chat, hold video conferences and edit documents, much like teams from Microsoft or Zoom from the US company of the same name. Many customers are currently working on the introduction of such solutions. “They are faced with the massive challenge of getting the employees into their home office,” says Döschl, who is currently having all the conversations himself from his home office.

If necessary, video conferences are also used in politics, education and healthcare. Chancellor Angela Merkel last reported from quarantine. A university in Rome switched the lectures to distance learning for 4800 students within 48 hours. Yoga and guitar teachers can also continue teaching. And even doctors and clinics are trying out the technology.

The data traffic is growing enormously. At the De-Cix Internet hub in Frankfurt, the volume increased by ten percent within a week, and the number of video conferences even doubled during this period.

The operating company emphasizes that the core network is designed for this – as soon as a certain threshold is reached, it increases capacity. However, there may be delays for individual users.

The rush is so big that even technology giants like Microsoft or Google Book failures. Of all things, the collaboration and communication service Microsoft Teams had to struggle with greater difficulties on the first day of the numerous school closings in Germany. Other providers of video and telephone conferences have had to admit technical problems time and again.

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Corona virus is a stress test for data networks

Dusseldorf, Madrid The calls of the past few days to stay at home because of the sharp rise in people with corona have spurred Internet traffic in Spain. Last Sunday, the five Spanish network operators called on the population not to use data-intensive streaming services for films or games during regular working hours in order to avoid a network collapse.

In the past few days, the data volume in the telecom networks had increased by 40 percent, cell phone calls skyrocketed by 50 percent, and mobile data usage by a quarter. Whatsapp news has quintupled.

In Germany, however, the situation is relaxed. All German network operators gave the all-clear on a Handelsblatt survey. So far, there has been no sudden increase in data usage, representatives of Deutsche Telekom said Vodafone and Telefónica on request.

A spokesman for the Deutsche Telekom said: “We already activated our emergency and pandemic plans in January and are prepared as best we can.” The main goal is to ensure the operation of the infrastructure. So far, there has been no particular load on the network.

“We are currently not seeing any significant increase in data traffic,” said the Telekom spokesman. The network operators Vodafone and Telefónica did not initially register a strong increase in data usage in Germany on Monday.

The president of the IT association Bitkom, Achim Berg, also sees broadband internet networks in Germany armed for increased data traffic. The relocation of many professional and leisure activities to one’s own home as a result of the corona crisis has resulted in “growing demands on the networks,” Berg told Handelsblatt. “This leads to larger amounts of data in the networks, but not necessarily to new peak loads, which usually appear in the evening after the end of normal working hours.” So far, “no serious impairments are known in Germany and they are not expected”. However, it is important to carefully monitor further developments.

Huge amounts of data – every day

The world’s largest internet hub is located in Frankfurt. The German Commercial Internet Exchange, abbreviated DE-CIX, handles an important part of the European data connections. A world record was registered there a few days ago. For the first time, data throughput of more than 9 terabits per second was processed in Frankfurt.

However, the outbreak of the corona virus and increasing access to news offers are only one explanation for this, said a DE-CIX spokesman. In addition, the launch of new online games and updates for that AppleOperating system iOS powered the data volume. Bottlenecks are not expected.

“Even if all companies in Europe would only operate their home office and the European Football Championship would also be broadcast, the DE-CIX can provide the necessary bandwidth for smooth interconnection,” said the spokesman.

The eco association of the German Internet industry is currently seeing an increase in data traffic. This is currently around 50 percent of the usual peak time in the evening between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., the association’s deputy chairman, Klaus Landefeld, told Handelsblatt. Although that is more than usual, about 25 to 30 percent of evening traffic would be normal. “However, this does not bring the network to its load limit, since it is distributed over the whole day and mainly affects the otherwise lower traffic times during the day.”

The “jerky” connections that employers may now perceive more in the home office were not due to the fact that the network was overloaded, says Landefeld. “Rather, the problem here is rather in the poorly dimensioned connections of the employers, ie the companies who simply failed to set up their infrastructure in such a way that it can be scaled in an emergency.” The company often retaliates here invest little in their data infrastructure, although more powerful bandwidths and connections would be available. “Companies that have already moved their data traffic to the cloud now have an advantage here.”

According to Bitkom President Berg, video streaming accounts for the largest share of the peak loads in the networks. “The peak loads can be attributed to the fact that users stream their favorite series in the evening,” said the Bitkom President. “The networks are designed for this and they can handle it.” Video streaming therefore accounts for about 60 percent of all data traffic. The requirements of home office and e-learning are comparatively low, says Berg. “Emails and collaboration tools only require very small bandwidths.” Even video conferences with “comparatively low speeds between 2 and 8 megabits per second (Mbit / s) are” easily possible “.

Full networks in Spain

A special situation is the closure of schools and many day care centers. Since Monday, a number of employees have had to reorganize their children’s care – this also affects the operators of the telecommunications networks.

“In view of the current developments regarding the closure of schools and daycare centers, we have recommended that all colleagues – especially those with children of daycare or school age – work in the home office as far as possible for the continuation of the operative business”, said a Telefónica spokesman.

In Spain, on the other hand, the government has decided on further measures. There has been a curfew since Sunday, people are only allowed to leave their homes to buy groceries or go to work. Monday is the first working day of the lock, when many shopkeepers have to stay at home and all schools and universities across the country are closed.

It is the definitive stress test for the Spanish networks. Industry leader Telefónica wants to take stock in the evening. So far there do not seem to be any major disruptions in the network.

As a precaution, the network operators have, among other things, asked their customers to use the landline for calls; no large files, but rather to send links; and to avoid mass emails.

Handelsblatt Morning Briefing - Corona Spezial

Spain has one of the best broadband networks in Europe. There are more fast fiber optic lines there than in Germany, Italy, France and Great Britain combined. The network operators’ call for caution suggests that there could still be bottlenecks.

This is not feared by the Landefeld Eco Association Vice President for Germany. “If the general data traffic, for example due to a curfew, as is currently practiced in Italy and Spain, also increases in Germany, load limits, which primarily result from increased video streaming, would probably be due to an adjustment of the streaming qualities by the Cushioned provider, ”he said. This is already the case today, for example, with peaks during the World Cup.

More: The perfect bait – cyber criminals use the corona panic.

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1 & 1 Drillisch pushes cellular plans through new alliance

Head office of 1 & 1 in Montabaur

The expansion of the future 5G mobile communications standard is closely related to the expansion of the fiber optic network in Germany.


(Photo: dpa)

Dusseldorf Last summer there was a fundamental change in the German mobile communications market. Internet entrepreneur Ralph Dommermuth had set himself the goal of establishing the established network operator Deutsche Telekom. Vodafone and challenge Telefónica. To do this, he wanted to set up a fourth network operator.

In the auction of 5G frequencies alone, the United Internet-Subsidiary Drillish Netz AG from around one billion euros. After the auction ended in June, things became quiet about Dommermuth and his ambitious plans.
Until now.

As the Handelsblatt learned, Dommermuth’s group around United Internet was able to agree on a framework agreement after months of negotiations with the Federal Association for Broadband Communication (Breko), in which many city network operators are united. This provides that the approximately 200 Breko companies together with the United Internet subsidiary 1 & 1 Versatel push ahead with fiber optic expansion in Germany and above all want to help open up 5G mobile phone locations.

The step has a signal effect. The expansion of the future 5G mobile communications standard is closely related to the expansion of the fiber optic network in Germany. An antenna can usually only be used reliably for 5G if it has been connected with fiber optics. However, the expansion is expensive and many construction companies are overloaded. It can sometimes take months or years for a construction company to tackle an optical fiber project.

United Internet tries to avoid this bottleneck. Versatel operates an approximately 50,000 km long fiber optic network, is active in 250 German cities, including 19 of the 25 largest cities in Germany. However, this is not enough for the expansion of 5G mobile radio. For comparison: Deutsche Telekom’s fiber optic network spans more than 500,000 kilometers.

5G expansion of 1 & 1 take off

Versatel technical director Claus Beck said: “The cooperation with Breko and its members means that the planning of the 5G mobile network of our sister company 1 & 1 Drillisch continues to gain momentum.” Breko managing director Stephan Albers said the framework agreement enables the networks without long negotiations to provide for mobile phone locations. “Many will participate because it is an attractive business model,” emphasized Albers. Versatel is a member of the Breko.

For United Internet, however, a core problem remains unsolved. It will be many years before the company can offer its own network across Germany. The agreement with Breko can accelerate the expansion in rural areas. But nothing more.

For months now, United Internet has been negotiating with the three major network operators Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica to share their infrastructure. So far, however, according to Handelsblatt information, no agreement has been reached. United Internet was not satisfied with the network operators’ offers. They complain that United Internet wants to buy valuable access to expensive infrastructure for little money.

United Internet originally pushed for legally guaranteed guarantees for the shared use of the other networks, so-called national roaming. The president of the Federal Network Agency, Jochen Homann, had argued: “It is not legally possible to oblige companies to let third parties online and to dictate prices.” However, he had said that all providers were subject to a negotiation requirement and a ban on discrimination.

United Internet insists on these rules. “If no timely solution emerges, the Federal Network Agency will have to exercise its referee role,” said a spokesman. The company had already complained to the advisory board of the Federal Network Agency about the procedure of the network operator. The “mirror” had first reported on the step. A formal complaint to the authority is still pending. However, a review process could take months to years.

More: More and more companies are building on the 5G standard

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Number portability: Bundeskartellamt demands price reduction


Taking the old number to the new provider should be cheaper.
Picture: dpa

If mobile phone customers want to take their number with them to the new provider, they have to pay up to 30 euros so far. The Bundeskartellamt considers a maximum of EUR 6.82 to be appropriate.

WIf customers want to take their old cell phone number with them when changing their mobile phone provider, the companies ask them to checkout. Because the Federal Network Agency considers these fees too high for many companies, the authority has initiated several proceedings. “We want to lower the hurdles for a change of provider,” said a network agency spokesman for the German press agency.

According to the legal requirements, consumers may only be charged for costs that actually arise when changing. So far, some providers still charge up to 30 euros. According to the will of the network agency, all mobile operators should significantly reduce the amount by April 20 – according to the current status, the authority considers a maximum of EUR 6.82 as a fee to be appropriate. In mid-February, all the companies concerned had already been asked to lower prices. The majority followed this appeal.

However, Telefónica, 1 & 1 Drillisch and several smaller mobile operators have so far held on to the higher prices, which is why the network agency initiated the proceedings against them. You want to wait for the result, said Telefónica. 1 & 1 Drillisch wants to wait with a price reduction for an amendment to the Telecommunications Act. According to the network agency, however, the providers should be obliged by April 20 to reduce the fee. Otherwise fines could be imposed.

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