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German mobile networks improve coverage in signal ‘dead zones’

Germany's three major network providers are cooperating to improve mobile coverage in the nation's patchiest areas.

iPhone with no signal
An iPhone shows a "no signal" notice. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Karl-Josef Hildenbrand

According to media reports, two of the network operators have managed to close thousands of so-called “grey spots” in Germany since last summer, making it less likely that people will find themselves with no signal on their travels.

There are still numerous ‘dead zones’ in Germany, with grey spots occurring when only one of the three mobile operators is present in an area, meaning that customers of the remaining two have no reception. 

But operators say they’ve managed to solve this issue by establishing network-sharing agreements with their competitors.

According to Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone, more than 2,000 grey spots were closed last year through the operators pooling their network coverage and the use of their antennas. 

That means that customers of Vodafone can now make use of Telekom networks in many areas where Vodafone signal is patchy and vice versa. 

The operators say that the agreements have been 50/50, with half of the borrowed networks belonging to Vodafone, and half to Deutsche Telekom.

Those who use the Telekom network, for example, now have 1,000 fewer dead spots nationwide.

Despite rapid progress, data from the Federal Network Agency shows that grey zones still affect around 6.4 percent of Germany. 

However, this figure was around 0.4 percent higher last October, and the operators are aiming to eliminate around 1,000 more grey spots by the coming summer.

READ ALSO: New map shows Germany’s mobile ‘dead zones’

O2 to join collaboration

Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone have been working on network sharing since 2020, sparking anger on the part of Germany’s third major network operator Telefónica (O2). 

After an intervention from the Federal Cartel Office, O2 was included in the alliance, though the collaboration is only just getting underway.

According to a Telefónica spokesperson, the first antenna sites will be activated in the coming months.

In total, about 2,000 of its own sites would be made available to other operators – some of them to Telekom and some to Vodafone. In return, Telefónica gets access to the same number of sites from the other two network providers.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Germany is finally set to improve Wifi and phone signal on trains

Vocabulary

grey spots – (die) graue Flecken

dead zone – (das) Funkloch

network operator – (der) Netzbetreiber 

covered by – abgedeckt von 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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TECH

Germany opens anti-cartel probe into Google Maps

Germany's anti-cartel watchdog said Tuesday it has opened a probe into Google Maps over restrictions that may be giving it an unfair advantage over competitors.

Germany opens anti-cartel probe into Google Maps

“The proceeding is to examine possible anti-competitive restrictions imposed by Google Maps Platform to the detriment of alternative map services providers,” the Federal Cartel Office said in a statement.

Andreas Mundt, president of the watchdog, said it had reason to believe that Google “may be restricting the combination of its own map services with third-party map services, for example when it comes to embedding Google Maps location data, the search function or Google Street View into maps not provided by Google”.

The move comes after the Federal Cartel Office in January classified Google´as a company of “paramount significance across markets”, paving the way for the authorities to clamp down on any potentially anti-competitive activities.

Parallel proceedings are already ongoing to examine Google’s terms and conditions for data processing and its news offer Google News Showcase.

An amendment of the German Competition Act came into force last year, allowing the authority to intervene earlier, particularly against huge digital companies.

The watchdog has also classified Meta, the company that owns Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, as a company of “paramount significance across markets”.

Big tech companies have been facing increasing scrutiny around the globe over their dominant positions as well as their tax practices.

The EU and Britain in March opened antitrust probes into a 2018 deal between Google and Meta allegedly aimed at cementing their dominance over the online advertising market.

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