5G – Faster, Stronger, Better – not only for the Private Sector

The race for the new mobile phone standard 5G is in full swing.

COVID-19 has partially caused the process of expansion to be delayed by around 18 months - despite the fact that the home office phase has demonstrated clearly how urgent the modernisation of our mobile network really is.

4G at its limit

Huge quantities of data are constantly being sent around the world. Swiss mobile networks experience a doubling in data traffic approximately every 12 to 18 months. An improvement of standard networks is therefore urgently needed in order to cope with the rapid growth in data volumes - as working on the move or streaming a film in HD on a train, for instance, has become an everyday reality. In Switzerland, more than one electronic device using mobile networks is counted per capita already today. The 4G network is reaching its capacity limits with all these connections. This was impressively demonstrated during the first weeks of lockdown with increased home office activity. Many experienced regular breakdowns in communication as networks were overloaded.

5G - What is the new generation about?

5G mobile technology has the potential to fundamentally transform the communications industry. Here are everyday examples that illustrate the enormous range of applications possible: the new technology is able to boost autonomous driving in the automobile industry, because 5G not only makes real-time navigation possible, but also accelerates the transmission and processing of data traffic. In mobile telephony, 5G can be used to stream even 8K resolution videos over long distances. And the IoT (Internet of Things) also benefits from 5G, through reduced latency times and higher bandwidths. 5G is generating a massive increase in production in Switzerland. A study by the Swiss Telecommunications Association (asut) predicts an increase in production value of over 42 billion Swiss francs if 5G is introduced swiftly - and this in turn will create around 140,000 new jobs. It is therefore hardly surprising how fast the Federal Council acted when it awarded the 5G licences in spring 2019. It demonstrated how important the rapid expansion of the network is.

Where does Switzerland stand compared to the rest of the International Community?

Switzerland is an innovative pioneer and one of the first countries in Europe and worldwide to make headway with the new mobile network. Swisscom and Sunrise tried to outbid each other in the expansion of the new mobile network 2019, following the award of the 5G licences by the Federal Council. Swisscom now covers around 90 per cent and Sunrise around 80 per cent of Switzerland with the new mobile communications standard.

Up to now, telecommunication companies have not experienced any negative economic effects following the COVID 19 crisis. Quite the contrary: increased home office activity and temporary social distance measures have caused network utilization to rise sharply everywhere in the first four months of the pandemic. However, this short term special effect is now being slightly tempered by the consequences of the recession. In addition, providers will expect a slight decline in revenues and an increase in the number of payment defaults. At the same time, high investment costs have already been incurred for the ongoing expansion. It therefore remains to be seen what effect this will have on the expansion of the network and whether there will possibly be an investment backlog.

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