24 March 2004
EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution) technology will allow Swisscom Mobile to supplement its existing UMTS network at short notice with a high-performance nationwide data network. A further development of the familiar GPRS standard, EDGE allows considerably higher transmission speeds of between 150 and 200 kbps. This is several times the speed of ISDN and will enable users to transfer data over a mobile terminal from practically anywhere in Switzerland.
Swisscom Mobile will thus become the first Swiss mobile operator to offer customers a nationwide broadband network that combines GPRS, EDGE, UMTS and WLAN technologies. This is ideal for business customers wishing to work while on the move (e.g. to access e-mails, their company intranet or the Internet) as well as for residential customers with a need for bandwidth-intensive applications such as the transfer of audio and video files. Integration of EDGE in the NATEL® network will not require additional base stations. Swisscom Mobile will start activating EDGE technology in selected areas as early as spring of this year. By the beginning of 2005, the new technology will be available to NATEL® customers wherever Swisscom Mobile's GSM network can be accessed. A host of attractive EDGE-enabled mobile phones from leading manufacturers are already available on the market, and a range of PC cards and mobile phones offering combined use of the various technologies are scheduled for launch at the beginning of 2005.
Today, UMTS permits bandwidths of between 200 and 350 kbps. This is to be increased to 3 Mbps by 2008. Over the same period Swisscom Mobile will extend UMTS coverage to 90% of the population. Since the antenna issue prevents UMTS from being set up quickly, Swisscom Mobile plans to launch EDGE nationwide. The combination of EDGE, WLAN and UMTS will therefore allow the provisioning of sufficient bandwidth for mobile data communication also in rural areas.
Already in May 2003 the UMTS network covered over 50% of the population and this is set to increase to 70% by the end of 2004. As early as the second half of 2004, NATEL® customers will be able to take advantage of the high bandwidth offered by UMTS - initially via PC multifunctional cards and at a later stage via UMTS-enabled Vodafone live! mobile phones as well.
Swisscom Mobile also plans to extend its existing WLAN network to around 800 Hotspots by the end of 2004; at present, over 400 Hotspots are available across Switzerland under the product name Public Wireless LAN.
Swisscom Mobile's technology mix will help Switzerland to assume a leading role across Europe. Alongside today's high ADSL penetration in the fixed network, wireless data transfer over a broadband mobile network also looks set to become more and more important. As number one in the Swisscom mobile communications market, Swisscom Mobile is investing over CHF 500 million in 2004 alone, notably in the construction and expansion of mobile broadband networks - as part of a comprehensive service commitment to its customers.
Berne, 24 March 2004