Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland signed a pledge with the German government to cover 99 per cent of the country with 4G networks by 2020, transport minister Andreas Scheuer announced.

The three operators will plug holes in coverage beyond the 98 per cent they committed to in the last spectrum licensing round, Reuters reported, and want the government to adjust subsidies to make the investment affordable.

“We are starting a unique network buildout offensive for Germany,” said Scheuer.

In a joint declaration, the operators also committed to ensuring 99 per cent of households have 4G network coverage by 2021. This would mean building 1,000 masts and upgrading another 10,000.

Scheuer said the government would ease the terms of auctions for 5G spectrum planned in 2019: operators will only have to pay for new spectrum once it is allocated, a move which could save the industry around €1 billion.