Cartel Office intervenes in mobile phone dispute

Image: © dianaduda -
Image: © dianaduda –

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 had contacted Germany’s top competition watchdog in February complained and Vodafone accused of obstruction. The Bonn authority then took up the issue and announced on Friday 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.

Is Vodafone slowing down the network expansion of 1&1?

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 thus 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. They will “explain in detail the reasons for any delays”. 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.”

Text: dpa/ Editor: JN



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