Mobile coverage

Coverage of the mobile networks

Switzerland enjoys almost complete mobile coverage.

The GSM technology (2G) was introduced in Switzerland in 1993 and definitively switched off at the end of 2022. This technology, originally designed for voice telephony and the exchange of small quantities of data (SMS, email), was outdated and was being used less and less. While Salt and Swisscom gradually decommissioned their 2G networks (GSM, GPRS, Edge) between 2019 and 2021, Sunrise announced it would no longer support this technology from 3 January 2023.

The third-generation (3G) networks, which enable mobile internet access for small data volumes with a speed of 42 Mbps and cover 99% of the Swiss population, will also gradually be retired by the operators who will follow a global trend. According to a report published in July 2022 by the Global mobile Suppliers Association (GSA), the industry organisation had already determined that 135 operators in 68 countries and regions had already decommissioned their 2G and 3G networks by mid-2022 or were in the process of implementing this step or planned to do so. In Switzerland, Swisscom announced that it would continue operating the 3G network until the end of 2025, while Sunrise will retire the 3G standard over the next three to four years.

The network resources that this freed up can be used for latest-generation 4G and 5G. ComCom awarded these mobile communications frequencies as technology-neutral. In other words, the licensee is free to decide the technologies to use with their frequencies.

At the end of 2022, more than 99% of the Swiss population was covered by LTE (4G), which was launched almost ten years ago now. All carriers also report high mobile coverage with LTE Advanced (4G+). At Swisscom, 96% are now thought to have access to speeds of up to 300 Mbps, and as many as 72% enjoy maximum speeds of 500 Mbps. In 2022 Sunrise achieved 98% reach with its LTE-A network, offering data transfer rates of up to 900 Mbps. Salt's LTE-A network reach stood at 55% and permitted data transfers at up to 1 Gbps.

The explosive growth in data traffic, with volumes doubling roughly every two years, nonetheless means that fourth-generation mobile telecommunications networks are approaching their limits.

Having acquired additional frequencies in early 2019, providers quickly began to roll out their 5G networks. By the end of 2022 Swisscom reached 99% of the population with 5G and transmission rates of up to 1 Gbps, and 74% with 5G+ and transmission rates of up to 2 Gbps. In September 2022 Sunrise covered over 96% with 5G and transmission rates of up to 1 Gbps. It also already supplies more than 1,100 towns and localities with 5G broadband, with transmission rates of up to 2 Gbps. Salt announced in early 2023 that it could reach 99.9% of the population and could provide an internet speed of up to 750 Mbps thanks to aggregation of the 3G, 4G and 5G signals.

In relation to the speeds indicated by the operators, it is important to bear in mind that mobile networks have a cellular structure and the transmission rates are distributed between users within a cell.

Last modification 31.05.2023

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