1&1 versus Vodafone
Cartel Office intervenes in mobile phone network dispute
There are three mobile phone networks in Germany: from Telekom, from Vodafone and from O2. Number four is in the works. But the newcomer 1&1 is not making any progress, the expansion is halting.
With the sluggish expansion of the fourth German mobile phone network by the telecommunications group 1&1, the Federal Cartel Office is examining the role of the competitor Vodafone.
1&1 complained to Germany’s top competition authorities in February and accused Vodafone of obstruction. The Bonn authority then took up the issue and announced that it had initiated abuse proceedings. They will “take a close look to see whether there are good reasons for the delay in providing antenna sites for 1&1,” said Andreas Mundt, head of the Cartel Office.
1&1 should have put 1,000 antenna sites into operation by the beginning of the year, but there were actually only five. That’s in large part because infrastructure provider Vantage Towers, which provides the masts and rooftop locations for the antennas, allowed for far fewer locations than promised by contract. Vodafone – another network operator and therefore a direct 1&1 competitor – holds almost 90 percent of Vantage together with financial investors. The newcomer from Montabaur suspected that Vodafone was involved in slowing down the expansion of the competing network. The Cartel Office is now examining a possible antitrust violation.
Vantage Towers and Vodafone both reject the allegation. “As a neutral and independent host, we offer all our customers open access to our passive infrastructure,” says a Vantage spokeswoman. “The reasons for any delays will be explained in detail”. Both companies emphasize that they will cooperate with the cartel office in the proceedings. A 1&1 spokeswoman welcomed the cartel office’s approach: “The investigation by the authority will now create clarity and transparency.”