German operator 1&1 signed a long-term tower rental agreement with the local unit of American Tower, marking a further step in the deployment of the market’s long-awaited fourth mobile network.

Under the framework agreement, 1&1 will be able to install antennas on up to 15,000 tower sites operated by ATC Germany. Each site will have a lease term of 20 years, which the operator will be able to extend multiple times.

Ralph Dommermuth, CEO of 1&1 parent company United Internet, welcomed ATC Germany as the newcomer’s “third strong partner for passive network infrastructure, which ideally complements our mast portfolio”.

1&1 recently inked an agreement with network specialist GfTD on the construction of 500 antenna sites.

The fledgling operator has also signed a long-term tower rental agreement with Vodafone Group’s Vantage Towers allowing it to use up to 5,000 existing masts.

1&1 pledged to activate 1,000 5G base stations this year, which it is obliged to do under the terms of a licence obtained in 2019. It recruited Rakuten Group to design, build and operate a fully virtualised mobile network based on open RAN.

Until the 1&1 network has been completed, customers will be able to use the Telefonica network under a national roaming agreement.