Mobile coverage

Coverage of the mobile networks

Switzerland enjoys almost complete mobile coverage.

GSM technology (2G) was introduced in Switzerland in 1993 and was primarily designed for voice telephony and exchanging small amounts of data such as SMS texts and email. GSM networks are now gradually being replaced by newer technologies. Salt and Swisscom phased out their 2G networks (GSM, GPRS and Edge) between 2019 and 2021, while Swisscom took the last of its 2G devices offline and switched off the technology for good in mid-April 2021. The network resources that this freed up can be used for latest-generation 4G and 5G. Sunrise UPC, meanwhile, has decided to continue operating its 2G network through to at least the end of 2022. Carriers' 3G, 4G and 5G networks will still support services such as text messaging.

Third-generation (3G) networks, which permit mobile internet access for small data volumes at a speed of 42 Mbps, are accessible to up to 99% of the Swiss population. Although providers will probably continue offering these services in parallel with the latest-generation technologies (4G and 5G) for some time, they are likely to be switched off in the years ahead. All operators in Germany shut down their 3G networks in 2021. In the United Kingdom, in early 2022 Vodafone UK confirmed that it intends to switch off its earlier 3G network from 2023 onwards. Several operators in many European countries and the USA have also announced phase-outs by 2025 at the latest. In Switzerland, Swisscom has announced that it will continue to operate the 3G technology until the end of 2025.

At the end of 2021, at least 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 2021 Sunrise UPC achieved 98% reach with its LTE-A network, offering data transfer rates of up to 900 Mbps. By contrast Salt's LTE-A network reach stood at 55%, but permitted data transfers at up to 1 Gbps.

The explosion 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, some providers quickly began to roll out their 5G networks. By the end of 2021 Swisscom reached 98% of the population with 5G and transmission rates of up to 1 Gbps, and 31% with 5G+ and transmission rates of up to 2 Gbps. As at December 2021 Sunrise UPC covered over 96% with 5G and transmission rates of up to 1 Gbps. It also already supplies more than 1,000 towns and villages with 5G broadband, with transmission rates of up to 2 Gbps. Salt has not yet supplied any coverage data, but has announced that it will continue to expand nationwide.

Last modification 20.05.2022

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