Telefonica Deutschland in deal with German fiber association (BUGLAS) to connect 5G sites

Germany has been deploying 5G networks for a number of years now. German telecoms regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA), announced at the end of last year that coverage had reached 53% coverage of the population.  However, much work needs to be done to get new 5G sites to be deployed.

Backhaul solutions must be arranged for all of these new sites, delivering the mobile data from the sites back to the network core. Currently, in most mobile markets, this is done through a mix of wireless technologies (primarily microwave spectrum, but increasingly mmWave spectrum) and fibre, both of which can handle the requirements of 5G. In less developed markets, on the other hand, older copper infrastructure is sometimes used, while some of the most remote sites will be forced to use satellite when no other options are practical.

According to the GSMA, microwave and mmWave links will account for at least 60% of global macro and small cell backhaul links from 2021 to 2027.

Nonetheless, it now seems that Telefonica Deutschland is leaning even more heavily into fibre for its backhaul needs, striking a new agreement with BUGLAS to create a pre-negotiated framework agreement. The agreement should provide a basis for all of BUGLAS’s fibre network operators to strike technology, interconnection, maintenance, and service level agreements with Telefonica in a faster and more efficient manner.

BULGAS represents fibre network operators in more than 80 German cities, all of which can now request this framework agreement from BUGLAS.

Image courtesy of  Telefonica

“For both 5G and FTTB/H rollout, co-operations are the central, efficient and resource-saving key to the modern gigabit society. In order to bring together the multitude of local, municipal and regional network operators with national providers such as O2 Telefónica, the telecommunications market needs standardized offers and framework agreements,” said Wolfgang Heer, MD of BULGAS. “We are therefore very pleased to have been able to conclude a 5G framework agreement with O2 Telefónica and also invite all other national network operators to join us in discussing further framework agreements and standardization.”

Telefonica views fibre as a more effective choice than terrestrial wireless for its 5G backhaul needs, suggesting that the technology is “significantly faster and more powerful than conventional microwave links”. There is a future-proofing angle here too, with Telefonica suggesting that wireless backhaul will “reach their limits in future” based on the steady growth of mobile and 5G application data that is expected in the coming years.

Telefonica-Deutschland already has over 100 strategic agreements signed with fiber players in Germany, currently connecting its 28,000 mobile sites with fiber.   Earlier this year, the network operator agreed to collaborate with NEC to build an OpenRAN, small cell network in Germany which has already been deployed.


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