Telefónica Deutschland will leverage Deutsche Telekom's high-performance fiber-optic cable network to connect at least 5,000 mobile base stations to support 3G and LTE networks and prepare for 5G.
Although DT today announced it will use artificial intelligence to deploy fiber optic cable, it was unclear whether its AI use will apply to the work slated for Telefónica Deutschland.
Rather, the new contract between the two service providers, which have been partners for several years, mirrors one completed in 2011. At that time, DT provided TelefónicaDeutschland with mobile backhaul services to connect its cellular antennas with the network center.
Both organizations "capture synergies" from the agreement, said Dirk Wössner, managing director of DT, in a release.
"The resources that we save will be dedicated directly to our own network upgrades and the development of 5G. Deutsche Telekom is building and operating the largest fiber-optic network in Germany by far," said Wössner. "We are very pleased that we will now be utilizing our infrastructure together with Telefónica -- because it will benefit Germany and millions of people."
The agreement helps the country stay ahead of the 5G curve, agreed Markus Haas, Telefónica Deutschland CEO, in a statement.
"By using the available infrastructure, we can accelerate the expansion of our mobile network and get a significant portion of our mobile base stations in shape for the future 5G standard," he said. "As a result, our customers will benefit directly from a more powerful mobile network and a better user experience."
Telefónica Deutschland plans to leverage partnerships with network operators like Deutsche Telekom and alternative mobile communications providers to connect more mobile base stations to fiber, noted Haas.
AI for fiber rollout
DT is using new, software-based technology to evaluate environmental data collected digitally to determine the most efficient and fastest way to deploy fiber, said Walter Goldenits, head of Technology at Telekom Deutschland (DT), in a release.
"The shortest route to the customer is not always the most economical. By using artificial intelligence in the planning phase we can speed up our fiber-optic rollout," Goldenits said. "It is often more economical to lay a few extra feet of cable. That is what the new software-based technology evaluates using digitally-collected environmental data. Where would cobblestones have to be dug up and laid again? Where is there a risk of damaging tree roots?"
Over the summer, DT sent out a vehicle equipped with 360° cameras and laser scanners to collect data using GPS technology around Bornheim, near Bonn. Part of DT's fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) project, the vehicle collected about 5Gbit/s of surface data per kilometer and covered between 50 kilometers and 80km per day, according to DT.
Without automation, though, all this data would overwhelm civil engineers tasked with opening the ground and laying conduits and cables. DT turned to Fraunhofer IPM, which developed software that automatically recognizes, localizes and classifies objects in measurement data. It uses a neural network that leverages deep learning algorithms to recognize about 30 categories including trees, streetlights, cobblestones and asphalt, the vendor said.
"Such huge amounts of data are both a blessing and a curse," said Alexander Reiterer, who heads the project at the Fraunhofer IPM. "We need as many details as possible. At the same time, the whole endeavor is only efficient if you can avoid laboriously combing through the data to find the information you need. For the planning process to be efficient the evaluation of these enormous amounts of data must be automated."
The software includes minute details such as whether trees are deciduous or coniferous, insight into trees' root structures and the make-up of sidewalks: Whether, for example, they consist of large slabs of concrete or small cobblestones or bricks.
Data in hand, AI anonymizes all vehicles and individuals. Engineers then enter the automated preparation phase and assess existing infrastructure to select the optimal route, according to DT. A human planner then verifies and approves the project, the operator said.
The effort and thus costs involved in laying cable depend on the existing structure. First, civil engineers open the ground and lay the conduits and fiber-optic cables. Then they have to restore the surface to its previous condition. Of course, the process takes longer with large paving stones than with dirt roads.
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.