Monday 2 March 2020

5G Sunrise over Switzerland

Swiss operator Sunrise was the first to launch 5G in the country. It may be the second major operator (2.4 million subscribers) but its 5G network currently covers 80% of the population. Meanwhile, market leader Swisscom (6.3 million subscribers) says it will have 90% 5G coverage by the end of 2019.  The third major national operator Salt has also launched a 5G service.

Sunrise is deploying 5G in Switzerland with Huawei as its main technological partner. Huawei is providing to Sunrise its end-to-end 5G network, including radio access network, transport network and core network .Sunrise  is currently only using spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band to provide 5G service in the country. For now, Sunrise said it isn’t expanding 5G in its other existing frequencies (700 MHz to 2600 MHz). Although this would help extend 5G coverage quickly, compatible devices are not currently readily available, and connection speeds do not differ significantly from advanced 4G service. Currently, 23 Sunrise shops across the country have already installed LampSities, a Huawei multi-band 5G small cell, so that customers can experience 5G firsthand.

The cornerstone of Sunrise’s “5G for the people” initiative, launched in April 2019 was to offer 5G based “fibre through the air” converged home broadband and TV services.

 The industry often refers to similar approaches as Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) but in Sunrise’s case the terminals are used indoors, there are no wall-mounted outdoor antennas and installer technicians involved and consumers are allowed to take the equipment and use them in any other location. Sunrise targets 5G fibre through the air in geographical areas where it doesn’t have favourable wholesale access to its partners fibre to the home (FTTH) networks and as such until now they needed to rely mainly on Swisscom’s DSL based wholesale products.

Sunrise pursues a Fixed-MobileConvergence (FMC) strategy in large cities and increasingly a Mobile Centric-Convergence (MCC) strategy outside the most populated areas, corresponding to the remaining 60-70% of the Swiss population.

Sunrise’s dedication to the “5G for the people” initiative is demonstrated by the rapid deployment pace of their 3.6 GHz based 5G network. Less than two months after securing  the required spectrum, Sunrise launched its home broadband service for friendly users in 150 cities/villages. In September 2019 Sunrise opened the service for the wider public. On the 18th December 2019 Sunrise claimed to provide 5G service in 384 cities/villages.

Sunrise has manged this despite  facing  serious deployment challenges due to the exceptionally strict Swiss Radio Frequency - Electromagnetic Field (EMF) radiation compliance limits, and regulations on the aesthetics of  5G towers and masts.

RootMetrics, the mobile analytics firm belonging to IHS Markit, said that Sunrise supplies the fastest 5G network in Switzerland. RootMetrics tested 5G connections in cars, trains and in more than 70 public buildings and pedestrian areas of cities. In total, it took more than 32,000 measurements from drive tests over 2,800 kilometers between Geneva and Zurich.

RootMetrics designed the test routes to include 5G areas covered by different providers. According to RootMetrics, Sunrise provided the most reliable services of the three mobile operators for other technologies than 5G, too, for data, voice and text performance. Sunrise is currently building 5G in the 3.5 GHz range with speeds up to 2 Gbps.

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