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EMF Studies

27 August 2012

Saturation Threatens Swiss Mobile Phone Networks


In Switzerland, data traffic sent via the mobile network doubles every 16 months. Smartphone users are responsible for this “insane growth” in demand.  “The ‘mobinauts’ keep surfing on the Net, chatting, consulting train schedules or watching videos.”  According to the person responsible for allo.ch, a telecoms information service, “a real risk of saturation in the transfer of data exists every day on the mobile phone networks.”  Now, the three Swiss mobile phone operators are relaunching antenna wars.  Swisscom foresees as many as 300 new ones next year.  Orange Suisse, up to 400.

Faced with this reality, the companies must agree to large investments. Over the next five years, this would mean 1.5 billion Swiss francs for Swisscom and 700 million for Orange Suisse.  In February, the three operators had to give over a total of 997 million francs for licenses allowing access to the new LTE (4G) technology.

Saturation threatens Swiss mobile phone networks
by Philippe Rodrik, Tribune de Genève, 24 August 2012
(translated from French)

For the first time in 6 years, the number of antennas once again becomes an issue for the mobile phone market.

“In Switzerland, a real risk of saturation in the transfer of data exists every day on mobile phone networks.  The operators must consequently adapt their respective infrastructures, says Didier Divorne, the person responsible for allo.ch.  Gregor Dürrenberger, mobile phone researcher at the Zurich Federal Polytechnic School, confirms the urgency of the situation:  “With a constant growth in data traffic, the existing mobile networks, GSM (2G) and UMTS (3G), are going to reach their limits.”

Impact of smartphones
And Christian Neuhaus, spokesperson for Swisscom, confirms the pressure :  « Data traffic sent via the mobile network doubles every 16 months. »  And who is responsible for this insane demand in growth?   Users of smartphones!  More than half the clients of telecoms firms in effect use these little machines that are so seductive.  And the “mobinauts” keep surfing on the Net, chatting, consulting train schedules or watching videos. 

Now, the three Swiss mobile phone operators are relaunching antenna wars.  Swisscom foresees as many as 300 new ones next year.  Orange Suisse, up to 400, double the objectives of preceding years. All this reminds us of another era in the history of the very young mobile phone industry.  “For the first time in six years, the number and capacity of the antennas could become a determining factor for the power struggle among competitors,” reveals Didier Divorne.

Faced with this reality, the companies must agree to large investments. Over the next five years, this would mean 1.5 billion Swiss francs for Swisscom and 700 million for Orange Suisse, according to the Zurich newspaper, Tages Anzeiger.  In February, the three operators had to give over a total of 997 million francs for licenses allowing access to the new LTE (4G) technology.

Swiss standards are very strict
A valuable asset for the future.  With the LTE network, the speed of data flow traffic will attain 100 megabytes per second, against 10 for many “internauts” using the fixed network.  LTE technology thus offers the perspective of a major increase in the capacity of each antenna.  But without permitting escape from thousands of new installations.

The federal ordinance on non-ionizing radiation in effect imposes strict limits.  “In Switzerland, emission strength levels are 10 times inferior to most of the European standards,” deplores Christian Neuhaus.

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