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Traces of light on the highway: 400 new Telekom sites

Photo: Patrick Pleul / dpa

The first radio mast, which serves the 2G, 4G and 5G standards in various frequencies between 800 and 2100 megahertz and is located at the A1 service area in Schellenbach in Saarland, is scheduled to start on Monday: The cooperation between Deutsche Telekom and Autobahn GmbH for the expansion of the mobile network on the motorways will become tangible.

By the end of 2024, it should be clear where a total of 400 new Telekom radio mast locations will be located along the highways. In the future, they will be located much closer to the road than other pylons and will therefore also enable good connections. This proximity to the road surface is a major advantage of the cooperation. The download speed should be at least 200 megabits per second. This means that the transmission is twice as fast as at other locations that only meet a government requirement of 100 megabits. The number of disconnections should be minimized.

The cooperation with Autobahn GmbH was announced in May, it provides for a simplified and fast site search including construction planning. The fact that the first antennas are activated almost half a year later is indeed comparatively fast. According to Deutsche Telekom, it currently has around 6300,<> mobile phone masts along German motorways. However, these are not as well located as the new facilities will be.

Vodafone and O₂ are nowhere near there yet

"In the past, the selection and coordination of new mobile sites was a lengthy process," said Abdu Mudesir, Chief Technology Officer of Telekom Deutschland. "Thanks to the cooperation with Autobahn GmbH, this has been significantly shortened." The State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Transport, Oliver Luksic (FDP), considered the commissioning of the first radio mast a success. "The Federal Government's goal is to make the most modern mobile communications standard available nationwide – our traffic arteries have particular priority in this regard."

Vodafone and Telefónica Deutschland (O₂) are also counting on closing ranks with the federal company, but are nowhere near as far along as the Magenta Group. A Vodafone spokesman says it has "agreed on a similar agreement" with Autobahn GmbH, which is about to be signed. It will still be some time before the first Vodafone antennas are activated, which can transmit close to the road as part of this cooperation.

An O₂ spokesman says that I am "currently in constructive talks" with Autobahn GmbH. "At the end of these talks, a cooperation agreement could be reached, which could make it possible, for example, to set up additional locations on motorways and service stations." The O₂ spokesman emphasizes that the network on the motorways is already being continuously and specifically expanded, i.e. so far even without cooperation with Autobahn GmbH. This also applies to Vodafone.

According to a report by the Federal Network Agency, Deutsche Telekom covered 98.0 percent of federal highways with 4G connections this summer, Vodafone 97.7 percent and Telefónica 97.6 percent. In the case of the 5G wireless standard, the percentages are lower. The difference to 100 percent seems small with 4G. However, the missing percentage points make it clear that there is still no complete coverage on many routes across Germany. In addition, there may be difficulties when changing the radio booth of the travelers.