Our Business

  • NfS: Description of the Business Model

United Internet is one of Europe’s leading internet specialists, with 26.68 million fee-based customer contracts (2020: 25.65 million; 2019: 24.74 million) and 40.32 million ad-financed free accounts (2020: 39.40 million; 2019: 37.59 million).

The Group’s operating business is broken down into the Access Division, which comprises the Consumer Access and Business Access Segments, and the Applications Division, which consists of the Consumer Applications and Business Applications Segments.

Consumer Access Segment

The Consumer Access Segment pools our fixed-network broadband products and mobile internet products (including associated applications such as home networking, online storage, telephony, and internet protocol television (IPTV)) for consumers.

Customers are offered these internet access products in the form of fixed monthly subscriptions (plus variable, usage-driven top-up fees) for contractually agreed periods.

United Internet’s 1&1 brand is one of Germany’s leading providers of broadband products (and particularly VDSL/vectoring and fiber-optic connections).

The Company uses 1&1 Versatel’s own fiber-optic network as a transportation network to access regional networks in the case of VDSL/vectoring and direct fiber-optic connections (“FTTH” = “fiber to the home”), and city carriers and Deutsche Telekom (primarily Layer 2) in the case of the last mile. Additional wholesale service providers are used for legacy business with ADSL connections.

United Internet’s mobile internet products make it the leading mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) in Germany.

United Internet is the sole MBA MVNO (mobile bitstream access mobile virtual network operator) in Germany with long-term, guaranteed rights to up to 30% of Telefónica Deutschland’s used network capacity, and hence extensive access to one of Germany’s largest mobile networks; it holds these rights indirectly via 1&1 AG. Apart from its privileged access to Telefónica’s network, the organization also purchases standardized wholesale mobile network services from Vodafone.

It enhances the purchased network services with end-user devices from well-known suppliers, plus proprietary applications and services, something that sets it apart from its competitors.

United Internet markets its mobile internet products via the premium 1&1 brand and discount brands such as yourfone and smartmobile.de, allowing it to offer the mobile network market a comprehensive range of products and address specific target groups.

As part of its plans to build its own high-performance 5G mobile network, United Internet successfully acquired two 2 x 5 MHz frequency blocks in the 2 GHz band spectrum and five 10 MHz frequency blocks in the 3.6 GHz band spectrum during the 5G frequency auction in 2019. This was followed in 2021 by its signature of long-term contracts, bringing together all the core components needed to roll out its own mobile network and hence to add value in this market in the same way as in the fixed network sector. One such contract is the national roaming agreement signed between 1&1 and Telefónica on May 21, 2021, which guarantees 1&1 customers comprehensive mobile network coverage while the company is building its own network by allowing them to use Telefónica’s network. Another is the partnership between 1&1 and Rakuten, announced on August 4, 2021, to jointly establish Europe’s first fully virtualized mobile network, which will be based on innovative OpenRAN technology. In addition, an intercompany agreement was signed on December 9, 2021, between 1&1 and its sister company 1&1 Versatel, in particular to lease the access network (primarily fiber-optic cables) and the data centers needed to operate the 1&1 mobile network. Another contract was also signed on the same date with Vantage Towers AG, one of Europe’s leading radio tower infrastructure companies. Among other things, Vantage will lease antenna locations to 1&1 and install the latter’s high-performance 5G antennas.

Business Access Segment

United Internet’s Business Access Segment offers a comprehensive range of telecommunications products and solutions for business customers under its 1&1 Versatel brand.

1&1 Versatel’s business model revolves around a state-of-the-art fiber-optic network more than 52,000 km long. This is one of the largest networks in Germany and is being continuously expanded.

It is used to offer companies a range of telecommunications products – from direct fiber-optic connections to customized, individual telecommunications solutions (voice, data, and network solutions). In addition, 1&1’s fiber-optic network is used to provide (wholesale) infrastructure services for national and international carriers and ISPs.

The network provides direct connections to commercially used buildings and government sites (“FTTB” = “fiber to the building”).

Consumer Applications Segment

The Consumer Applications Segment is home to United Internet’s consumer applications. These primarily include personal information management applications (e-mails, to-do lists, appointment/address management solutions), and online (cloud) storage, plus domains, consumer website solutions, and office applications.

The portfolio has been successively expanded, and the GMX and WEB.DE brands – the largest e-mail providers in Germany for years – have been transformed in recent years from pure-play e-mail suppliers to end-to-end hubs for user communications, information, and identity management.

The consumer applications are largely developed in-house and operated in the Group’s own data centers.

The products are offered as pay accounts or ad-financed free accounts. The latter are monetized using classic and, to an increasing extent, also programmatic (i.e., data-driven) online advertising. United Internet Media is responsible for marketing.

United Internet’s ad-financed and fee-based consumer applications use the GMX and WEB.DE brands and are mainly focused on Germany, Austria, and Switzerland; the Company is one of the leading providers in this region.

Business Applications Segment

United Internet’s Business Applications Segment provides freelancers, self-employed professionals, and SMEs with internet-based business opportunities and helps them digitalize their processes. It does this by offering customers a broad, subscription-based range of high-performance services such as domains, websites, web hosting, servers, cloud solutions, e-shops, group work, online (cloud) storage, and office applications.

The product range has been expanded over the past few years beyond the core hosting packages that have been tried and trusted by millions of users and now includes numerous cloud-based e-business solutions.

The applications are developed in the Company’s own development centers or in cooperation with partner organizations, and run on more than 90,000 servers in 10 data centers.

United Internet’s Business Applications Segment is also an international leader in its field, with activities in Europe (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, Switzerland, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia) and North America (Canada, Mexico, and the USA). The goal is to add other countries successively.

The business applications are marketed to specific target groups using a variety of differently positioned brands: IONOS, Arsys, Fasthosts, home.pl, InterNetX, Strato, united-domains, and World4You. In addition, United Internet’s Sedo brand offers customers professional active domain management services, whereas CM4all (acquired as of February 1, 2021) offers other hosting providers a white-label website builder for creating high-quality websites.