Vodafone Group spin-off Vantage Towers signed fledgling German operator 1&1 to a long term agreement to use its infrastructure in the country, as the newcomer continues to prepare a 5G network.

The deal covers access to an initial 3,800 sites comprising a mixture of rooftops and ground-based infrastructure, with Vantage Towers responsible for installing the operator’s kit and acquiring related permissions.

1&1 will be able to use the full allocation of 3,800 by the end of 2025, with an option for expansion to cover a total of 5,000 sites across Germany.

The agreement lasts until the end of 2040, though 1&1 has the option to extend until 2060 if required.

After winning a spectrum allocation at Germany’s 5G auction in 2019, 1&1 has signed a number of agreements as it looks to move from running an MVNO to being a full mobile operator with an open RAN-based 5G network.

Previous deals include a mandated national roaming agreement with Telefonica Deutschland, which has hosted 1&1’s MVNO for several years, and a technology partnership with open RAN champion Rakuten Group.

1&1 CEO Ralph Dommermuth stated the company had “gained a strong partner for the passive network infrastructure in Vantage Towers”, building on its “far-reaching” deal with Rakuten.

“By cooperating with established tower companies, we want to primarily use existing antenna sites,” he added. “This is environmentally friendly, conserves resources and at the same time accelerates our rollout.”

Alongside the tower tie-up, 1&1 updated on mounting costs for its network build.

It indicated funds allocated to network construction in 2022 would rise to €70 million from a previous forecast of €30 million. It is on track to spend €40 million on the project this year, €10 million above expectations.