Ericsson and Swisscom have announced the completion of what is being described as Europe’s first end-to-end, multi-vendor 5G NR call in the Swiss city of Burgdorf.
The call was made over Swisscom’s 3GPP-compliant network using Ericsson’s radio technology, alongside the Ericsson Cloud Packet Core, a solution aimed to deliver converged communication services.
This can be seen as an extension of the companies’ current efforts. As this publication reported, Swisscom chose Ericsson in November as its strategic Gigabit LTE and 5G supplier to help transform Switzerland’s network through 2020, while the two companies demonstrated end-to-end network slicing at this year’s Mobile World Congress.
“We’ve raised the bar on our strategic partnership with Swisscom with these new milestones,” said Fredrik Jejdling, executive vice president and head of business area networks at Ericsson. “By achieving an end-to-end data call on the 3.5GHz band and kick-starting the 5G network rollout, we are helping Swisscom bring 5G services quicker to its customers.
“Access to new technologies will prepare industries for 5G use cases that will benefit the whole of Switzerland,” Jejdling added.
Switzerland’s route to 5G is an interesting one. The Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) has tentatively set the date of January 2019 for the country’s 5G auction, with blocs in the 700 MHz, 1,400 MHz, 2,600 MHz and 2.6 GHz being subject to bidding. Swisscom, alongside its rival operators Sunrise Communications and Salt SA, are expected to bid.
Speaking to analysts after Swisscom’s Q2 2018 results in August, CEO Urs Schaeppi said he was ‘confident [of delivering] a good customer experience’ with the auction. Schaeppi confirmed that Swisscom would only have a maximum allocation of 49% to ensure competition. As a report from Light Reading put it , the ComCom auction documents wanted to ensure that ‘each operator, given a corresponding willingness to pay, has the possibility of acquiring frequencies for a 5G rollout.’
The Ericsson release added that Swisscom aims to be the first mobile operator in Switzerland to offer 5G services ‘pending the definitive outcome of commercial spectrum in the country.’