Christoph Aeschlimann, director of Swisscom: “The mobile network is like the road network” –

Swisscom Managing Director Christoph Aeschlimann discusses the development of 5G and the growing bandwidth needs on the Helvetica show on Saturday. It also returns to the obligation to provide access for its competitors to its fiber optic network.

A giant in the telecoms market, majority owned by the Confederation, Swisscom is developing its 5G antenna network for mobile phones.

And it is not a long, quiet river, to hear Christoph Aeschlimann: “There is always opposition, especially locally”, declares the boss of the former federal government since June 2022.

“But we are moving forward with the construction of 5G. Today we cover 82% of the population. This is already good progress, but it remains a matter of concern, because it takes a lot of effort to build more antennas. And we cannot use the antennas correctly because the limits are very severe in Switzerland. This forces us to build even more antennas, which is not in anyone’s interest. he elaborates.

If you double the traffic every two years, you will have traffic jams

Christoph Aeschlimann

The 47-year-old computer engineer graduated from EPFL, recalls that needs are only increasing, particularly due to the consumption of videos.

“Bandwidth usage doubles almost every two years. The mobile network is like the road network. If you double the traffic every two years, you will have traffic jams at some point. So you have to build more roads, more antennas.”

>> Also read: 5G: which operator best covers your region? Our exclusive cards

A decision on fiber contested

Swisscom also extends underground using optical fiber. And in this area, the company was slapped on the wrist at the end of April by the Competition Commission.

Comco imposed a fine of 18 million francs on the former federal agency for violating cartel rights in the development of its network.

The company has, according to the competition watchdog, deprived its competitors of access to its infrastructure by changing the design of its cabling in 2020. In addition to the financial sanction, Comco ordered Swisscom to build a fiber network usable by third parties.

>> To reread on this subject: Comco sanctions Swisscom to avoid a monopoly on optical fiber

The company, headquartered in Bern, described Comco’s decision as “incomprehensible” in a press release.

According to her, the technology chosen still allowed all competitors “to obtain a data stream from Swisscom in a non-discriminatory manner up to a specific connection”. The company also estimates that the deployment of fiber will be delayed, because the costs of the work will increase.

Considering “having acted adequately with regard to competition law”, Swisscom announced this week that it would appeal Comco’s decision to the Federal Administrative Court.

A question of anticipation

Christoph Aeschlimann recalled on Saturday that the company changed its construction method already a year and a half ago. The goal: to “proactively” comply with Comco directives, even though, according to him, “it has not been demonstrated that [ses membres] are right”.

We cannot afford to wait 16 years in building a network

Christoph Aeschlimann, Managing Director of Swisscom

Christoph Aeschlimann maintains that the method originally chosen was the right one: “We wanted to build like 90% of the planet builds. It’s a simplified version, with a fiber that goes [depuis un central de quartier] down to the street and, from there, a fiber that goes into every house. This more or less corresponds to the world construction standard and allows us to build cheaper and faster,” he argues. “Now, Comco is forcing us to install fiber [pour chaque logement] from central [de quartier], as the copper network was constructed. It will cost more and take more time,” laments the Swisscom boss.

Comments collected by Philippe Revaz

Web text: Antoine Michel



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