State-owned full-service provider Swisscom has activated its 5G network in 102 locations across 54 towns and is aiming for nationwide coverage (around 90% of the population) by the end of the year. The operator notes that customers of its inOne mobile plans in the covered areas can access the 5G network now if they have a compatible device, although Swisscom will not begin selling 5G-ready handsets and modems itself until next month. Alongside the upgrade for mobile users, Swisscom will also use the 5G network to provide high speed broadband connections for customers outside of its fibre footprint. According to the operator, 30,000 of its customers already use a 4G booster to augment their copper-based DSL line and these subscribers will soon be able to use a 5G booster.
In a related development, meanwhile, the Swiss government has moved to address health concerns regarding 5G deployments and is tasking the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) with monitoring levels of non-ionising radiation in the environment and the public’s exposure and to report on its findings. A working group from the FOEN and the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), meanwhile, will analyse the short and long-term risks from exposure to radiation from mobile communications equipment, particularly with regards to the introduction of 5G. Swiss operators have argued against the country’s strict limitations on non-ionising radiation, as the restrictions currently hamper the deployment of the additional sites needed to provide 5G services. Despite lobbying from the cellcos, parliament has recently rejected two attempts to revise the law and relax the restrictions. In its press release yesterday the Federal Council also announced that it had closed a loophole that meant that omitted the 1400MHz band from existing regulations.