Swisscom launches LTE Advanced services

Swisscom became the first operator in Switzerland to deploy LTE Advanced (LTE-A) services, with commercial networks launched in two railway stations on Monday.

The Swiss incumbent launched its LTE-A networks in Berne and Lausanne stations, and said it would extend the service into the cities of Berne and Biel/Bienne in early July. Swisscom said the new network offers data rates of up to 300 Mbps by combining two 150-Mbps LTE channels, and is essential to meet growing demand for mobile data in the country.

Swisscom noted the highest demand for data typically comes from railway stations and city centres, where large numbers of users place the most pressure on network capacity. Over time, the operator plans to deploy LTE-A in Zurich, Geneva, Lucerne, Lugano, and Basel.

The company said its investment in LTE in 2014 will total around 1.75 billion Swiss francs (€1.4 billion/$1.9 billion), and that its current network covers 91 per cent of the country's population.

ABI Research analysts in February predicted global LTE-A subscriber numbers will hit 750 million in 2019, accounting for 37.3 per cent of total LTE subscribers. It tipped Western Europe to be one of the most aggressive regions for LTE-A rollouts, after North America and Asia Pacific.

Whether Swisscom can cash in on its LTE-A network is another matter.

The company revealed in May that its net income fell 4.4 per cent year-on-year to 373 million francs in the first quarter of 2014, after mobile subscription revenues remained flat on the opening period of 2013, despite an increase in the number of mobile lines in use and mobile subscriber numbers in the recent quarter.

Many new subscribers were attracted by Swisscom's Natal Infinity tariff, which offers unlimited calls and SMS to all Swiss networks. Customers using the tariff transmitted four times more data than those on other subscription packages.

For more:
- see Swisscom's LTE-A announcement

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