United Internet to buy Drillisch MVNO to create fourth German operator

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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Merger of two German companies will create rival to Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefónica

Germany’s United Internet is to buy control of mobile operator Drillisch to create a fourth operator in the market with annual sales of €3.2 billion.

Drillisch is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) that uses the infrastructure of Telefónica Deutschland, one of the three operators the combined group will be competing against. The other two are Deutsche Telekom and Vodafone.

Telefónica sold 20% of its spectrum to Drillisch in 2014 after it bought rival operator E-Plus from KPN for €8.6 billion. The following year Drillisch bought The Phone House’s chain of shops in Germany from UK company Dixons Carphone.

United Internet will combine its existing 1&1 fixed and mobile telecoms business with that of Drillisch. The combined operation will have more than 12 million customers, the companies said. 

In December 2016 United Internet bought web hosting business Strato from Deutsche Telekom for €600 million.