Friday, July 14, 2017

Swisscom to trial NB-IoT and Cat-M1 as part of 5G development

Swisscom has detailed efforts in the development of 5G technology, specifically stating that it plans to launch two new access technologies for the Internet of Things (IoT) next year: Narrow Band-IoT and LTE Cat-M1.

The access technologies are based on mobile supplements to the existing low power network (LPN), and Swisscom claims it will be the first provider in Switzerland to conduct field trials of network slicing in 2018. This technology is designed to enable individual 5G and 4G applications to be allocated guaranteed network resources in future.

Swisscom is also testing 5G speeds in a test environment in Zurich. Based on technology from Ericsson, the trials have achieved transmission capacity of over 20 Gbit/s capacity in a radio cell.

Swisscom noted that IoT is a key element in digitisation and will result in increasing mobile data volumes, therefore it is implementing a national expansion for IoT. In 2017, the low power network (LPN) will be made available to 90% of the Swiss population. Swisscom is also expanding its IoT portfolio via two access technologies based on 3GPP mobile communications - Narrow Band-IoT (NB-IoT) and LTE Cat-M1.

Swisscom plans to begin initial tests of NB-IoT and LTE Cat-M1 with pilot customers before the end of 2017, with a commercial launch scheduled for 2018.

To leverage the benefits of 5G, Swisscom is also implementing network function virtualisation (NFV) technology. In May, Swisscom launched an NFV service for companies. NFV allows the network load to be configured to ensure that applications have the required resources. To achieve this, network slicing ensures applications used in industrial communications are guaranteed network resources. Swisscom will test a prototype with partner Ypsomed and carry out the first field trials in 2018.

As part of 5G development, Swisscom is trialling a mobile base station with antenna and two terminal devices at Ericsson’s 5G development centre in Sweden. The 5G prototype enables speeds of up to 10 Gbit/s to be achieved in parallel on the mobile network.

Swisscom is also expanding its 4G network and will phase out its 2G network by the end of 2020. Swisscom currently offers 4G+ to 40% of the Swiss population with speeds of up to 300 Mbit/s. This is due to rise to 67% by the end of 2017. Swisscom also covers 15% of the population with speeds of up to 450 Mbit/s.

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