Switzerland made their 5G roll out look easy, but is it?


Switzerland stole the technology news headlines this week after Sunrise (one of two network carriers in Switzerland) claim they have already hit their target of 80% 5G population coverage. 

A little competition can clearly go a long way. The driver for the fast deployment was due to market leader, Swisscom, suggesting they’ll have 90% population coverage by the end of 2019. You can read more about that here.

Simon Fort, Head of Mobile at 9 Group

So, are we dragging our feet in the UK? 

We’ve spoken to our inhouse 5G expert and Head of Mobile, Simon Fort, about just what’s holding the UK back. Here’s what he thinks:

“Despite the figures for Switzerland seeming frankly astounding, there are many factors that need to be considered. The first being the size of Switzerland’s population in comparison to the UK. The total population of Switzerland is less than that of greater London, plus the country is smaller, meaning installing the infrastructure will require a lot less equipment and labour.”

“In the UK, the government auctions off the radio wave spectrum and allocates licences with allowances to any company that provides services that require radio waves. The demand is high, so is the competition, so to buy spectrum has become extremely expensive for network providers. Plus, the spectrum is simply sold to the highest bidder, so whoever spends the most gets the most. Not only that, but Ofcom sets the targets for network providers to meet based on population coverage and the providers rarely seem to want to exceed those timeframes.”

“In short, Switzerland’s roll out has been made much more achievable due to the concentrated competition and the leniency when it comes to access to spectrum. As their market is driven by two key players, the revenues generated from customers are much higher than the UK with an ARPU (average revenue per user) of around £32 per person, in comparison to our £20. So, while our network operators are likely still trying to cover the costs of buying spectrum for 4G, they’ve now got to hit the ground running with 5G.”

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