German authorities and the country’s mobile operators agreed to legally binding coverage targets in return for extended payment terms for the acquisition of 5G spectrum licences.

The pact follows months of arguments and scathing criticism of the conditions imposed by authorities alongside its auction to allocate 5G suitable spectrum, which raised €6.6 billion.

Representatives from Deutsche Telekom, newcomer 1&1 Drillisch, Vodafone Germany and Telefonica Deutschland signed the agreement with the Bundesministerium fur Verkehr und digitale Infrastruktur, the government agency responsible for telecoms infrastructure.

Andreas Scheuer, minister for transport and digital infrastructure, said under the deal, 99 per cent of the country’s households will have reliable voice and data services by the end of 2020.

“We now have the legally binding commitment of the mobile network operators,” he said. “More than 1,400 new mobile masts will be built. This is a clear signal that the expansion of mobile communications in previously underserved regions is being driven forward with full force.”

In return for making the commitments, the operators have been given improved payment terms for 5G spectrum, with fees now able to be made over annual instalments until 2030.

In a statement, Telekom Germany CEO Dirk Wossner hailed the concession for delivering “planning security” to the operator, enabling it to “get started with 5G”.

“We want to expand 5G not only fast, but especially in related areas. To close white spots is especially important. Because with that, the basis is laid, that in the future also 5G will be expanded there.”

Across the new agreement and terms signed as part of the 5G auction, Germany’s operators have vowed to provide LTE in 99 per cent of households nationwide by the end of 2020 and meet the same target in each state by the end of 2021; build at least 1,400 masts accessible to any operator; meet minimum data speed targets across major transport routes; and install base stations in specific areas to close coverage gaps.