1&1: Fourth mobile network to go live in September
1&1 has a date for the start of its own mobile network: The company is currently planning for September 26, said United Internet boss Ralph Dommermuth when announcing the half-year figures. 1&1 initially wants to offer contracts with LTE and only later also market 5G.
The background is the recent conclusion of a new roaming agreement with Vodafone. While the contract with Vodafone also includes 5G mobile communications, 1&1 can currently only offer LTE in the roaming contract for the O2 network that is in place until mid-2025. Most recently, Dommermuth also introduced a roaming requirement.
Roaming my Vodafone
Roaming takes effect wherever 1&1 does not provide its own network coverage. After delays in network construction, this should still affect the vast majority of the country at the start in September. “I can’t yet say how many antenna sites we will then have in operation,” explained Dommermuth. Currently there are only 40.
“By the end of the year we expect around 1000 locations”, the CEO now states as a target. Previously there was talk of 1200 locations. 1&1 cannot take over a few hundred locations as planned because the expansion partner has withdrawn them. “We have not received any explanation as to what exactly is the reason,” said Dommermuth.
Dommermuth admits that the collaboration with infrastructure provider Vantage Towers is still not without problems. Since the investor KKR got involved, however, improvement is in sight. “But I have the feeling that things are moving with the partner, that efforts are being made to increase output and to comply with the contracts,” said the CEO.
In the current quarter, 1&1 now wants to take over 300 more locations, and new leases are to be concluded for a further 200 locations. When 1&1 takes over a location, all structural issues and the network connection have already been clarified. The company then installs the antenna technology itself and integrates the locations into its own network.
50 percent coverage by 2030
The aim is to open up around 500 new locations every quarter. “That’s the number we need to reach fifty percent household coverage by the end of 2030,” Dommermuth said. A total of around 12,500 active antenna sites are required for this. 1&1 builds its network with the open system Open RAN, which relies heavily on virtualization.
In the fourth quarter, 1&1 then wants to start migrating its existing customers to its own network. As one of the major mobile service providers (MVNO), 1&1 sells its mobile phone tariffs based on network capacity purchased from Telefónica Deutschland and Vodafone. With the start of your own network, the SIM cards are successively transferred to your own network.
First, the 1&1 customers and the sister brands (including Yourfone, Smartmobil) are to be migrated with pure LTE tariffs. As soon as roaming with Vodafone is in place, 5G customers will follow. This takes a while because the migration is carried out via the network operator’s porting system, which 1&1 cannot flood with its almost 12 million mobile phone customers.
1&1 has applied to the Federal Network Agency to be allowed to be mobile communications provider and network operator at the same time for a little longer. With the start of its own network operation, 1&1 has to discontinue its activities as a mobile communications provider at the end of the year. 1&1 would now like to extend this until the end of September 2024. The company could thus continue to market 5G tariffs before roaming with Vodafone is complete. It is still unclear whether the Federal Network Agency will agree to this.
United Internet is growing
Meanwhile, 1&1 parent United Internet recorded a significant increase in new customers for the first half of the year. In total, the company was able to close 490,000 new customer contracts and now has almost 28 million of them, as United Internet announced.
In the access business, the Group recorded a total plus of 180,000 new contracts. While there are 230,000 new contracts in mobile communications, the fixed network has lost 50,000. With 1&1 Versatel, the group now has almost 25,000 business and government locations in 350 cities.
In the hosting area (Ionos), the number of customer contracts rose by 210,000 to 9.25 million. The number of accounts for the portal brands Web.de, GMX and Mail.com fell by 690,000 to 42.2 million user accounts. United Internet was able to increase paid accounts by 100,000 to 2.7 million.
At Group level, sales at United Internet climbed by 4.4 percent to around EUR 3 billion in the first half of the year. Of this, 343 million euros remained before taxes – 10 percent less than in the same period. Adjusted for special effects (EBITDA), the company states 670 million euros, a minimal 1.9 percent plus.
1&1 increased revenue between January and June by 2.1 percent to almost two billion euros, while adjusted operating profit grew by 2.2 percent to almost 393 million euros.
The stock market reacted kindly. In the SDax small-cap index, the shares of United Internet and 1&1 are listed with price increases of a good six and seven percent, respectively.
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