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Deutsche Telekom to launch commercial 5G operations in 2020

© Reuters. A Deutsche Telekom logo is seen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Deutsche Telekom (DE:) will launch commercial 5G operations in Germany in 2020, as long as enough commercial devices are available, Chief Executive Tim Hoettges said on Wednesday as he pledged to keep up the pace of network investments.

Hoettges renewed a pledge to invest 5.5 billion euros ($6.32 billion) a year in building Telekom's broadband network in Germany, according to a statement issued before a meeting on network strategy to be hosted by Germany's main industry lobby.

His comments signaled the intent of Deutsche Telekom, the market leader that is partly state owned, to out-invest its competitors as Germany prepares to auction 5G licenses in early 2019.

Yet Hoettges also appealed for cooperation on building out Germany's fiber-optic network, critical both for providing gigabit-speed internet connections and ensuring that 5G services such as networked factories and smart cities can operate.

"5G is not just another network, but an important element of value addition in our customers' products," Hoettges said, adding that he would invite industry to join in the development of a standardized European 5G platform.

Deutsche Telekom would host a user conference to assess the demands on its 5G network, he added.

Germany, along with most European countries, is lagging countries like Japan, Korea or the United States in its plans to roll out 5G services. A lack of available 5G-enable smartphones is a key concern when it comes to offering retail services.

($1 = 0.8708 euros)

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