E-Plus is a mobile telecommunications operator in Germany. With 19.0 million subscribers, E-Plus is the third largest mobile operator in Germany, after T-Mobile (38 million subscribers) and Vodafone (37 million subscribers). E-Plus has been owned by Dutch telecommunications operator KPN from 2002 until July 2013 when it was bought by Telefónica.
The company was awarded Germany's first DCS-1800 (later renamed GSM-1800) license in 1993. One term of the licence was that no further Mobile network operator could be started within 3 years of the start of the network.
The network started operation as a "metropolitan" network, with coverage only in the biggest cities, in 1994. The coverage area was expanded rapidly, but for years the network's image was hampered by the view that its coverage was lacking. As a countermeasure, voicemail retrieval was free of charge for the first of years of operation, and calls were billed in six-second increments (in contrast to the one-minute increments of the other networks); after text messaging was introduced, it too was free for some time.
E-Plus was the second network in Germany to offer prepaid tariffs to its customers (after T-Mobile's XtraCard) and later introduced HSCSD, which boosts data rates on GSM networks to analogue modem speed levels. Shortly after that, E-Plus upgraded its network to support GPRS. They now also operate a 3G UMTS network.
In February 2006, after the EGSM900-band, which was in military use before, had become available in late 2005, the German regulation authority Bundesnetzagentur assigned two 2 x 5 MHz channels to E-Plus and O2 Germany. In return, E-Plus and O2 Germany had to give up some GSM1800 frequencies to two competitive operators T-Mobile and Vodafone. The first EGSM900-base stations (cell sites) started operation in April 2006. In March 2007 E-Plus outsourced deployment, management and maintenance of its network to Alcatel-Lucent and thereby transferred 750 employees to the latter company.
E-Plus was the first company to introduce i-mode in Germany.