Vodafone Germany to expand mobile service on waterways

700 waterway construction projects are planned through 2023, with 1,400 more 5G sites added

Vodafone Germany has announced plans to improve 5G and LTE communications coverage for Germany’s bustling seaports and inland waterways. The plans include the expansion of both the company’s LTE network footprint and 5G, including 5G Standalone (SA). 

What’s driving the move to outfit German waterways with better broadband? Commerce and sustainability are two important objectives, according to the operator. Commerce, in this case, for all of Europe, not just Germany.

“Approximately 4,800 km of the federal waterway network are of significant importance for international freight traffic in Europe,” noted the operator.

As to sustainability, Vodafone Germany said that shipping is the most environmentally friendly mode of freight transportation.

“A barge can transport a ton of cargo almost four times as far as a truck with the same energy consumption,” said the carrier, citing figures from BMVI.

The carrier said that it already covers 99% of “economically important” waterways with LTE, and two-third of them with 5G, but Vodafone Germany still sees room for improvement. Some numbers, for context: Germany has 18 seaports of “economic importance” and about 7,476 kilometers (4,645 miles) of inland waterways. According to the carrier, 2,800 waterway locations in Germany already sport broadband LTE coverage. Comparatively, more than 1,400 of Vodafone German’s mobile sites serving waterways are broadcasting 5G, and the company’s 5G Standalone (SA) deployment is available on 440 of those. 

Vodafone Germany said it will bolster its 4G LTE coverage along its waterways and ports by closing up existing dead spots and improving bandwidth. The company plans to deploy another 700 sites to further improve coverage and download speeds.

Vodafone Germany first activated its 5G SA network in 2021, with plans to offer 5G SA throughout the country by 2025. The company launched 5G SA service in partnership with Ericsson, Nokia, Qualcomm and OPPO. Initially, Vodafone Germany upgraded 1,000 sites throughout the country with 5G SA, lighting up service in major German cities including Frankfurt, Berlin, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Düsseldorf.

It’s accelerated its 5G and 5G SA efforts in 2022. In May, Vodafone Germany launched 5G SA in the German city of Bonn and last month announced 5G SA service for Munich. Its deployment strategy in Bonn and Munich is similar to its waterways strategy: The carrier is leveraging existing mobile communications infrastructure wherever possible, putting 5G and 5G SA antennas into operation at existing mobile communications sites. The already existing mobile radio stations are being upgraded with additional 5G and 5G SA technology, as the company upgrades masts, observation towers, church towers and on the roofs of town halls, office buildings and residential buildings with new antennas and radios.

Vodafone Germany also said in July that it has deployed over 15,000 5G antennas this year, bringing 5G coverage to more than 55 million people throughout the country. About 15 million of those customers can also get 5G SA coverage, it said.

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