Deutsche Telekom promises European 5G rollout in 2020

27 February 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Deutsche Telekom is planning a Europe-wide rollout of 5G mobile, promising an increase in capacity 1,000 times today’s LTE, within the next two years.

The company says it is planning 100% coverage of the countries where it operates, from the Netherlands to Greece, where it regards OTE as part of the network.

Tim Höttges, CEO of Deutsche Telekom, said that the company did not want to put borders in the infrastructure. Speaking at Mobile World Congress (MWC), he said he recognised that investment would be needed in the wholesale business to cater for the increased demand.

“Our wholesale team is working on this,” said Höttges.

At the same event head of technology Claudia Nemat announced a collaboration with China Unicom on narrowband internet of things (NB IoT) services, a move that will see the two companies share a platform for machine-to-machine (M2M) services.

“This is not just a commercial partnership, but we’re sharing platforms,” she said. Deutsche Telekom’s customers in Europe will be able “to have the same M2M connectivity in China and the other way round. We can offer connectivity with the same user experience.”

NB IoT is currently a 4G technology but will operate over future 5G, she said, because of the emerging technique of network slicing. This will allow 5G networks different types of services with different requirements over the same infrastructure.

Höttges said that “2020 will see real 5G networks” across the company’s operations. “Germany will be one of the first, because that is 50% of the value of the company. We are trying to do everything to be aggressive and lead the pack.”

The future 5G networks will have 1,000 times the capacity of what he called “classical 4G”, with 100 times the speed and one-tenth the latency.

It will be available “everywhere Deutsche Telekom is operating”, he said.

But the cost will be high. European operators will together have to invest €300-€500 billion on infrastructure between them, he said.