Vodafone warns of attacks on 5G antennas in Germany

Attacks on 5G cell towers

A 5G transmitter was destroyed in an arson attack in Huddersfield in Northern England.

(Photo: AFP)

Dusseldorf The network operator Vodafone has warned of attacks on cell towers in Germany. Arson attacks have already taken place in several EU countries. Similar things could happen in Germany, said Vodafone Germany boss Hannes Ametsreiter on Wednesday.

“These activities can endanger life,” said Ametsreiter. In the UK, a cell tower near a hospital was destroyed, and emergency calls could not be made. That is a worrying development.

The background to the attacks are conspiracy theories that have linked the expansion of 5G mobile communications to the outbreak of the corona pandemic. Masts had been damaged or destroyed in Great Britain, the Netherlands and Cyprus.

Despite attempts by scientists and politicians to calm the population, concerns about similar events in Germany are increasing. Vodafone technical director Gerhard Mack said: “We must not fool ourselves.” The expansion of 5G mobile radio is still in the early stages in Germany. In the Federal Republic, “many thousands of new masts” would still have to be built to supply the population with 5G.

German industry in particular had been pushing for a 5G supply that was as extensive as possible. She hopes to be the basis for new products, better networking of production and the basis for applications such as autonomous driving.

Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom announced on Wednesday to significantly expand the expansion of 5G mobile radio in Germany. Telekom wants to supply half of the German population with 5G this year. That would correspond to about 40 million people. “We have big plans for 5G and will bring the latest mobile communications standard to large parts of Germany this year,” says Telekom Germany boss Dirk Wössner.

Vodafone also announced that it would make its 5G network available to around ten million people in Germany this year. In the beginning, Vodafone focused on the cities, said Ametsreiter. “Now we’re bringing 5G to the area.”

Important frequencies for 5G were auctioned in Germany last year. In addition to Telekom and Vodafone, Telefónica Deutschland and the newcomer also secured themselves for a total of 6.55 billion euros Drillish, behind which the group United Internet (Brands 1 & 1, GMX, Web.de) stands, frequencies. The nationwide expansion of mobile radio technology will take years.

More: This is how scientists assess the theories about the relationship between 5G and corona.

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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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United Internet approves new share buyback program

United Internet

The Management Board of United Internet has launched a share buy-back program with the approval of the Supervisory Board.


(Photo: dpa)

Berlin The internet and mobile operator United Internet wants to launch a new share buyback program. As part of this program, up to five million company shares are to be bought back via the stock exchange, the company listed in the MDax announces in a mandatory notice.

The total volume of the share buyback program is up to 150 million euros. The program should start on April 3 and will run until August 31, 2020 at the longest. The company plans to release further details before the share buyback begins.

With the resolution, United Internet “makes use of the authorization granted by the Annual General Meeting on May 18, 2017,” the statement continues. On the basis of this authorization, the company has so far 12,635,523 shares, which according to the information account for 6.51 percent of the share capital. The company currently holds 6,338,513 treasury shares.

United Internet boss Ralph Dommermuth wants with the telecommunications subsidiary 1 & 1 Drillisch Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and challenge Telefónica and become part of the network operators.

But the project is delayed. The planned schedule could no longer be met, said Dommermuth at the press conference at the end of March. The reason is the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, which makes network expansion difficult. Permits are required, which are currently difficult to obtain because many building authorities have closed.

Stagnating business this year

Although the company has seen a sharp increase in telephone calls and data consumption in the fixed network, the company expects business to stagnate overall this year.

However, the impact of the pandemic is just one of several challenges for the company. United Internet wants to be able to use the existing networks in Germany, at least in the meantime, to set up its own infrastructure.

His company had been talking to Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica for months. But no agreement had yet been reached. “The three potential negotiating partners are in no particular hurry,” said Dommermuth.

More: United Internet is aiming for stable business.

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Corona virus delays the establishment of the 5G network

United Internet boss Ralph Dommermuth

The entrepreneur’s network plans are delayed.

(Photo: Thies Rätzke for Handesblatt)

Dusseldorf Internet entrepreneur Ralph Dommermuth wanted to rise to the circle of network operators in Germany. He wanted Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and challenge Telefónica. The construction of the new infrastructure should actually start now. But the project is delayed. The planned schedule could no longer be met, said Dommermuth on Thursday at his company’s balance sheet press conference United Internet.

The outbreak of the corona pandemic complicates network expansion. Permits are needed for the laying of new fiber optic lines. But these are currently difficult to get. “Many building authorities have closed,” said Dommermuth. Dommermuth is also cautious when it comes to business development.

Although his company saw a sharp increase in telephone calls and data consumption in the fixed network, the company expects business to stagnate overall this year. The company behind brands such as GMX and Web.de had increased its sales by 1.8 percent to around 5.2 billion euros in the past financial year.

Adjusted earnings (Ebitda) rose 5.4 percent to just under EUR 1.27 billion. The MDax group plans to raise its dividend from five cents in the previous year to 50 cents. At the subsidiary 1 & 1 Drillisch, who is primarily responsible for the network expansion, announced Dommermuth, however, to keep the dividend at the prescribed minimum of five cents. “We want to keep our powder dry,” said Dommermuth.

However, the impact of the corona pandemic is just one of several challenges facing the company. United Internet wants to be able to use the existing networks in Germany at least in the meantime to set up its own infrastructure. His company had been talking to Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica for months. But no agreement had yet been reached. “The three potential negotiating partners are in no particular hurry,” said Dommermuth.

Federal Network Agency could intervene

The conflict between the newcomer and the established providers was already emerging. The heads of Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica had spoken out against building a new competitor right from the start. However, all four companies took part in the auction of the frequencies for the upcoming 5G mobile communications standard last year. United Internet alone had paid more than one billion euros for the use of the frequencies.

The Handelsblatt learned from corporate circles that the network operators Vodafone and Telefónica had already submitted contracts for the shared use of their infrastructure. However, the network operators could not agree on the financial details with United Internet or 1 & 1 Drillisch.

If the companies do not come together, the case could end up with the Federal Network Agency. The authority sets the framework for the telecommunications industry in Germany. It had decided against an obligation to share the infrastructure required by United Internet. Authorities president Jochen Homann had argued, however, that there was a “negotiation requirement” and a “prohibition of discrimination”.

If negotiations between the companies fail, the authority could check whether government intervention is necessary. However, it is unclear how long such a check would take.

More: The corona pandemic is a stress test for the data networks.

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United Internet is aiming for stable business

United Internet

A company sign on a United Internet building on the premises of subsidiary and internet company 1 & 1.


(Photo: dpa)

(Update: Additional company figures added) United Internet is targeting stable business for Montabaur The telecommunications provider United Internet has undertaken a stable business development for the current year and wants to pay a significantly higher dividend again. The distribution for the past year should be 0.50 euros per share, as the MDax group announced on Wednesday in Montabaur. A year earlier, there had only been a dividend of 5 cents because United Internet and its telecommunications subsidiary 1 & 1 Drillisch bought expensive mobile radio frequencies for the new 5G data radio in 2019. CEO Ralph Dommermuth owns around 42.5 percent of United Internet shares.

United Internet sales and earnings are expected to be around the 2019 level this year. Since then, the revenue increased by 1.8 percent to 5.2 billion euros. United Internet is currently creating a slow hardware business for smartphones and tablets from its subsidiary 1 & 1 Drillisch, and the company is also reducing online advertising space for private customer offers such as GMX and Web.de.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 5.4 percent to EUR 1.27 billion. However, this was due to the changed accounting for leases, without which the operating result would have decreased by almost 2 percent.

The bottom line was a profit attributable to shareholders of 396.4 million euros. It rose to 2.13 euros per share after 94 cents a year earlier. Above all the weak share price development in the participation Tele Columbus United Internet had rocketed high impairments in 2018.

Telecommunications subsidiary 1 & 1 Drillisch, with United Internet boss Ralph Dommermuth the established network providers Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Germany wants to attack, the number of customer contracts increased by 790,000 over the year. At 1 & 1 Drillisch alone, sales rose by 1.1 percent to EUR 3.67 billion, the operating result fell by more than 5 percent to EUR 683.5 million.

More: Home work because of the pandemic: Vendors like Microsoft or Zoom are promoting commercial solutions. There are free and safe alternatives.

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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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