Ericsson and carrier Swisscom have switched on what it claims to be the first large-scale commercial 5G network in Europe to support commercially available smartphones, the vendor said in a statement.

The partners went live with the network on April 17, following Swisscom’s securing of a commercial 5G license. As all the other component parts of the network were already in place, securing the license meant the partners only had to switch the network on, Ericsson said.

The commercial 5G network, and related 5G services, are now available in 54 cities and communities in Switzerland, including Zürich, Bern, Geneva, Basel, Lausanne and Lucerne.

Swisscom  said that its subscribers with commercial 5G smartphones and routers in covered areas will immediately have access to 5G services across infotainment, gaming, virtual reality, and immersive media experiences.

The partners also said that the launch of the 5G commercial network also opens the door to exploring new opportunities in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 areas.

Urs Schaeppi, CEO, Swisscom said: “With the launch of the first commercial 5G network in Switzerland, we are laying the foundation for diverse, new applications and business models. This will not only be great for Switzerland but also inspiring for the people who will now be part of the digital world whether they are living in the city, countryside, or in the mountains.”

Arun Bansal, President and Head of Europe and Latin America, Ericsson, said: “As we continue our close ties with Swisscom, we are also strengthening the 5G ecosystem by reducing the time-to-market for chipset and device makers. We ensure multivendor operability with 5G devices and networks, enabling more 5G devices to come to the market so consumers can enjoy the benefits of 5G services.”

Swisscom previously announced its aim to have its 5G network operational all over Switzerland by the end of 2019, with close to 90% nationwide population coverage.

The Swiss carrier said it aims to achieve this coverage using Ericsson Spectrum Sharing software that shares spectrum between 4G and 5G carriers based on traffic demand.  This solution will enable fast nationwide 5G coverage with 5G-ready 4G radios.

In February, Switzerland’s Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) had raised CHF380 million ($379 million) after it awarded 5G frequencies to local mobile operators Salt, Sunrise and Swisscom,

Salt secured 20 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 80 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band and 10 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz range. For this spectrum, the operator will have to pay CHF94.5 million.

Sunrise purchased 10 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 100 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz range and 15 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz band. The carrier also secured an additional 10 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, which are  “supplemental downlink” frequencies that can be used to increase data download capacity in the future. Sunrise will pay a total of CHF89.23 million for the spectrum.

Meanwhile, Swisscom will pay CHF195.55 million for 30 megahertz in the 700 MHz band, 120 megahertz in the 3.5 GHz band and 50 megahertz in the 1.4 GHz band.

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