Mobile network operators Telefonica Deutschland, Telekom Deutschland and Vodafone Germany plan to enter into mutual cooperation agreements to close gaps in their wireless networks, known as ‘grey spots’. The aim of the agreements is for the companies to grant mutual access to their 4G networks in areas with low mobile phone traffic and in this way to close smaller gaps in areas otherwise supplied by the respective operators, and where it is often unprofitable for the companies to expand their own network. The cooperation agreements involve several thousand base station sites in Germany.
Last year Telekom and Vodafone had agreed on a similar cooperation, but without including Telefonica. ‘In our view, a cooperation between Telekom and Vodafone without Telefonica’s participation would be problematic from a competition perspective. We have therefore insisted that the cooperation be extended to include Telefonica,’ stated Andreas Mundt, President of the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt), adding: ‘This also ensures the best outcome for mobile telephone users in Germany. If all providers mutually grant access to the networks of other providers to close such gaps in the networks, breakdowns in connection can be best avoided. In this way we also prevent competitive disadvantages for individual suppliers such as in this case Telefonica.’ The Bundeskartellamt says it will monitor the cooperation ‘to ensure that competition is not disrupted and ultimately that all mobile users in Germany benefit from the economically sensible and relatively cost-effective network improvement’.