Telco aims for nationwide 1-Gbps coverage next year; targets 5G upgrade in 2020

Swisscom on Wednesday struck a deal with Ericsson in a bid to reach nationwide Gigabit LTE coverage next year, with a view to upgrading the network to 5G in 2020.

Under the agreement, Ericsson will supply radio access equipment, including small cells and massive multiple-input, multiple output (MIMO) technology, and various core network elements, including a virtualised evolved packet core (vEPC), a full network functions virtualisation (NFV) stack, and virtualised IP multimedia subsystem (vIMS).

The agreement also covers network optimisation services, and planning, design, and system integration services.

"We would like to offer the best network to our customers in Switzerland – today and in the future. That’s why we invest massively in the latest mobile network technologies," said Heinz Herren, CIO and CTO of Swisscom, in a statement.

The Swiss incumbent said the upgrade will accelerate the development of new use cases, including massive machine type communication (MTC) and critical MTC in various sectors, such as factory automation, smart grids, intelligent mobility and digital health.

Swisscom said its first Gigabit LTE sites are expected to go live in 11 cities by the end of this year.

Wednesday’s agreement builds on Swisscom’s longstanding partnership with Ericsson. Earlier this year, the two companies demonstrated 5G network slicing and narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) technology.

Last April, Swisscom and Ericsson managed to reach 1-Gbps in a live LTE-    Advanced Pro (LTE-A Pro) trial.

"Swisscom has been leading all generations of mobile technologies – from 2G, 3G, 4G, and 5G development – in partnership with us, and now they will continue to lead the market with Gigabit LTE and 5G deployment," said Arun Bansal, SVP and head of Europe and Latin America at Ericsson. "5G is enabling new market opportunities for operators, industries and society as a whole. With its ambitious 5G rollout plans, Swisscom is seizing this opportunity."