Highspeed Internet for a small mountain village

Swisscom trials 5G in Guttannen

The upcoming 5G mobile communication generation brings ultra-fast broadband to the farthest corners of Switzerland. Such as to the small mountain village of Guttannen in the Bernese Oberland. Swisscom is currently testing a range of applications with customers here.

Bruno Böhlen, 9 July 2018

Swisscom aims to roll out the latest 5G mobile generation at selected sites in Switzerland by the end of 2018. 5G steps up speeds to new levels and responds in real time. It will enable applications that we can only dream of now. In March 2018, Swisscom and medical technology manufacturer Ypsomed demonstrated why 5G is deemed to be the key to the industry of the future by digitising Ypsomed’s entire process chain. In Guttannen, Swisscom is currently testing how 5G can improve performance many times over for private household in isolated areas.

Fast home networking at fibre optics level

Although Guttannen has only around 300 inhabitants, it is one of the Bern canton’s largest communities, covering an area of more than 200 km², which makes developing the infrastructure a challenge. Guttannen is currently served by a 4G/LTE mobile communication mast. In addition, 184 buildings are connected by copper to an exchange in the village centre. An upgrade to FTTS (fibre to the street) hybrid technology is planned for 2021, enabling bandwidths of more than 100 Mbit/s in the village. However, in communities like Guttannen, some buildings will still not benefit from the expansion and will have to be covered in a different way due to their isolated location.

Swisscom’s innovative Internet booster relays the mobile signal to the WLAN router.

This is where 5G with fixed wireless access (FWA) comes into play. Instead of cable, VDSL or fibre, individual buildings and flats are connected to the fast Internet via fixed wireless access. “It is important to Swisscom that mountain regions also enjoy good coverage. This is why we are also trialling the possibilities of 5G in Guttannen, and not only in the big cities”, says Project Manager Reto Straumann FWA has huge potential, especially in remote rural areas. The technology can be used in combination with the fixed-network infrastructure, improving the availability of ultra-fast broadband as a result.

Swisscom has an additional mobile communication mast sited in Guttannen. It transmits signals in the 3.5 Ghz frequency range, just as 5G will. Three test customers have been given the appropriate equipment and are testing some of the 5G services of the future.

Project Manager Reto Straumann explains how Swisscom’s field trial in Guttannen is testing the opportunities that 5G, the latest generation of mobile communications, will bring to remote mountain regions. Total length of video 02:20 min.


What is being trialled?

Walter Schläppi-Kuster is the former district council clerk of Guttannen. Swisscom fitted a small receiver to the window of his home. It connects with the new mobile communication mast to provide wireless access to the Swisscom network. Together with a Swisscom TV-Box it enables viewing in brilliant UHD quality.

Urs Zuberbühler is a teacher. A receiver was also mounted to the window of his classroom to pick up the signal from the mast. He has been working for several years with tablets in his class. They depend on good Internet performance so that the whole class can work online at the same time - or let the children take part in lessons via videoconferencing in the winter when they can't get to school because of the snow.

Teacher Urs Zuberbühler is very keen to see whether 5G will allow several children in his class to use bandwidth intensive applications at the same time in the future.

Daniel Kaufmann runs a glass-blowing workshop down in the valley and in the summer he herds goats on the alpine pastures. The new technology enables him to combine his two jobs optimally. Receivers were installed in his workshop and on the alpine pasture. A webcam was also mounted on the alpine pasture, powered by electricity from a solar panel. This way, Kaufmann can keep an eye on his goats from the workshop.

The test will run until the end of the year.

Swisscom: pioneering 5G

In the summer of 2016, Swisscom, Ericsson and EPFL (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne) launched the "5G for Switzerland" programme to conduct joint research into the new mobile communication standard. Swisscom has reached a host of 5G test milestones since then: in the summer of 2017 Swisscom presented 5G applications like network slicing and speeds of 20 Gbit/s. Swisscom’s industrial partner, Ypsomed, uses 5G applications in the Industry 4.0 sector.

Swisscom trialled the first 5G mast in Ittigen, in the canton of Bern, in the middle of March 2018, and aims to roll out 5G at selected sites on the mobile network by the end of 2018. We plan to roll out 5G at selected sites in Switzerland in 2018. However, rapid nationwide expansion of the 5G network will take somewhat longer, as extending the existing network of masts, especially in urban areas, is no longer possible due to statutory limits.

More about 5G from Swisscom
5G in industry: 5G pilot at Ypsomed