Swiss full-service providers Sunrise and Salt have announced plans to enter a strategic partnership to roll out an open access fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) platform with a target of covering 1.5 million homes within the next five to seven years. The deployment will be carried out by a new joint venture (JV), Swiss Open Fiber, which will be established and co-owned by Salt and Sunrise with equal shareholding, whilst a financial partner will be introduced at a later date with a minority shareholding. In addition, Swiss Open Fiber will collaborate with Swiss Fibre Net (SFN) – which has existing deals with both Salt and Sunrise – and will support the set-up and operating of the JV in a strategic partnership. Total investment in the company is expected to reach around CHF3 billion (USD3.1 billion) and construction is due to begin in Q4 2020, following the signing of financing agreements and wholesale deals with operators. The network will focus on underserved non-urban areas, specifically the roughly 30% of Swiss households in sub-urban and medium density areas. Explaining the decision, the duo noted that urban and high density areas are already well service by Swisscom and local utilities firms, whilst the more rural areas will be better served by 5G systems. Sunrise and Salt will act as anchor tenants on the infrastructure, but the network will be made available to all retail providers.
Pascal Grieder, CEO of Salt, was quoted as saying of the tie-up: ‘This project is unique of its kind, leveraging the capabilities and reach of two strong Swiss operators to create a nationwide infrastructure. Growing importance of flexible and virtual working and learning models will continue to drive the need for high-performance broadband services across Swiss households, and our initiative will facilitate such services at attractive prices. We have an ambitious roll-out plan and encourage municipalities and utilities looking into FTTH deployment to reach out to us.’