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5G: Slow expansion of the mobile network at 1&1 is also Vodafone’s problem

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Vantage Towers, a Vodafone subsidiary that has fallen out of favor, is apparently responsible for the missed goals in the 5G network expansion of the telecom provider 1&1.


Transmission mast operator Vantage Towers has been identified as primarily responsible for the sluggish expansion of the mobile network at 1&1. The telecom provider recently stated that it would not be able to achieve its 5G network expansion targets set for 2022 due to delivery problems at its most important expansion partner, but without naming names. This is apparently Vantage Towers, a subsidiary of Vodafone.

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Telecommunications provider 1&1 had previously named three partners for the expansion of its own 5G network: Vantage, Dortmund-based GfTD GmbH and ATC (American Tower). 1&1 did not initially publish the respective share in the 5G expansion of the fourth telecom provider alongside Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone (D2) and Telefónica (O2). A few days ago, however, 1&1 explained opposite to TelecomTVthat Vantage is the largest partner by volume.

This puts the main blame for the sluggish 5G expansion at 1&1 Vantage Towers on, because the other two (smaller) partners are progressing as planned with the expansion. Due to the delays at Vantage, the interim target of 1000 5G antenna sites by the end of 2022 cannot be achieved. This will probably only be achieved in the summer of 2023. Nevertheless, 1&1 sees itself as well on the way to achieving the planned level of coverage of 50 percent of all households before the end of 2030.

The exact cause of the delay at Vantage Towers is still unclear. The transmission mast operator refers noisy LightReading to the confidential agreement with 1&1. Vantage had previously stated that the plan to provide 1&1 with at least 3800 and possibly up to 5000 locations by the end of 2025 had not changed. The 1&1 mobile network was to be expanded more quickly by renting radio towers from the Vodafone subsidiary.

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The delay, however, reflects poorly on Vantage Towers. Even if the competitive situation of 1&1 and Vodafone as mobile phone providers did not play a role, other telecom providers are likely to fall back on other transmission tower operators, such as GfTD or ATC, because they are not active in the core business of a mobile phone provider.

At the same time, Vodafone is probably considering reducing its stake in Vantage Towers. So far, Vodafone has held 81 percent of the transmission mast operator. Originally, other shareholders were to be included, with Vodafone wanting to hold the majority. Various investment firms are said to be interested. This would allow Vodafone to reduce its mountain of debt, which had accumulated to 41.6 billion euros at the end of March.

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