Swiss state-controlled telecoms group Swisscom believes that the debate regarding the installation of 5G infrastructure in some regions of the country is becoming more “rational” and highlighted that it could be an opportunity for 5G deployments in the medium term.
“Regarding the network rollout of 5G in Switzerland, we have a very emotional debate in a lot of regions. We are blocked to roll out the network. Today we have a coverage of 90% on the basis of dynamic spectrum sharing, so we have coverage on 5G — but we have problems to roll out or to densify the network, now because of all these debates. In the last two or three weeks, I think there is some hope that the debate is becoming more rational and we have now some parties in Switzerland which are really supporting 5G,” Swisscom’s CEO Urs Schaeppi said during a conference call with investors.
“I think mid-term we will be in a better situation but the debates on building mobile networks will stay an emotional one in Switzerland,” the executive added.
Earlier this year, Switzerland’s Federal Council decided to keep current 5G radiation exposure limits, and also announced plans to further monitor the effects of the next-generation mobile technology. The cabinet said it aimed to protect the population from non-ionizing radiation by maintaining its limits. The cabinet highlighted the role 5G can play in digitalization but added that it is also considering concerns raised by some citizens about this technology.
The government also decided to implement a range of measures including further development of radiation exposure monitoring and creation of a new environmental medical advice center for non-ionizing radiation.
In a previous conference call, Schaeppi said that a lot of regional governments are blocking the building of 5G antennas because the federal government did not yet specify a method to measure radiation.
Schaeppi previously said that the new specification from the government is not likely to be available before the end of this year and noted that the most problematic region for the deployment of 5G infrastructure was in the French-speaking region of Switzerland.
Schaeppi also said that Swisscom’s 5G network already reaches 90% of the country’s population. The carrier’s network was commercially launched in April 2019 using equipment from Swedish vendor Ericsson. Initially, the new technology was launched 54 cities and communities in Switzerland, including Zürich, Bern, Geneva, Basel, Lausanne and Lucerne.
Swisscom used Ericsson Spectrum Sharing software that shares spectrum between 4G and 5G carriers based on traffic demand to reach nationwide 5G coverage with 5G-ready 4G radios.
In February 2019, Switzerland’s Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) had raised CHF380 million ($395 million) after it awarded 5G frequencies to local mobile operators Salt, Sunrise and Swisscom.
Salt secured 20 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 80 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band and 10 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz range.
Sunrise, in the process of being acquired by Liberty Global, purchased 10 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 100 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz range and 15 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz band. The carrier also secured an additional 10 megahertz in the 700 MHz band.
Meanwhile, Swisscom secured 30 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 120 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band and 50 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz band.