Switzerland lines up 5G spectrum auction for H2 2018

9 Nov 2017

Switzerland’s Federal Council yesterday approved changes to the National Frequency Allocation Plan (NFAP) to facilitate the allocation of new frequency bands for the development and provision of 5G services. Following the announcement, the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) has confirmed that it is preparing to award new spectrum in the 700MHz, 1400MHz, 3500MHz-3600MHz and 3600MHz-3800MHz bands – as well as previously unsold airwaves in the 2600MHZ range – in H2 2018. The new frequencies will be available in 2019, whilst the 2600MHz spectrum is available immediately. In a statement from the regulator, ComCom noted that consultation with industry stakeholders during the summer had indicated a ‘great interest’ in the new spectrum, as the frequencies will not only allow operators to overcome bottlenecks in current 4G networks, but will also be important for the future development of 5G technology.

The airwaves to be auctioned are as follows: 2×30MHz of FDD spectrum, plus 1×15MHz of supplementary downlink (SDL) frequencies – i.e. only usable for downstream – in the 700MHz band; 1×91MHz of SDL spectrum in the 1400MHz band; 1×300MHz of TDD in the 3500MHz-3800MHz range; and 2×5MHz of FDD frequencies in the 2600MHz band.

In a related decision, the Federal Council also agreed to lower the licence fees for mobile spectrum in the 3GHz range from 1 January 2018. The move aims to take into account the less favourable propagation characteristics of the higher frequency bands. A statement from the Federal Office of Communications (Ofcom) noted that the higher bands are suitable for expanding capacity of radio network and are ‘of great importance for the rapid introduction … of the future 5G mobile radio networks from 2019 onwards.’