Swiss operators Sunrise and Salt Mobile unveiled a fibre joint venture designed to address what they claim are key failings in the nation’s current coverage and mount a challenge to incumbent Swisscom.
In a media presentation, Sunrise and Salt Mobile detailed plans to construct a fibre network through a soon-to-be-created 50:50 joint venture, Swiss Open Fiber.
The company will be formed to serve the “strong demand” for fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) broadband, connect communities not served by current infrastructure, and challenge Swisscom. The companies said a recent move by the incumbent to double its FTTH coverage would result in a “de-facto monopoly” with “potential adverse consequences” for the market.
Sunrise and Salt Mobile stated only 30 per cent of 5 million homes passed in the nation have FTTH access. They aim to connect 1.5 million homes over the next five-to-seven years with an investment of up to CHF3 billion ($3.1 billion).
Construction of the network is scheduled to begin in Q4, with deployments targeting rural or low-density areas, along with suburban areas of mid-level density. Retail access will be offered in collaboration with with Swiss Fibre Net, a joint venture of local and regional energy providers established to coordinate access to various fibre networks.
The operators noted rural areas also stand to benefit from a 5G boost due to greater availability of fibre backhaul. Urban coverage will be handled through wholesale deals with Swisscom and utility companies.
Andre Krause, Sunrise CEO, said the joint venture will “accelerate ultrafast broadband connectivity and significantly improve fibre penetration in Switzerland relative to other European countries”.
Salt Mobile CEO Pascal Grieder added the project is unique in leveraging “the capabilities and reach of two strong Swiss operators to create a nationwide infrastructure”.
Sunrise cancelled a proposed acquisition of Liberty Global-owned cable company UPC Switzerland in November 2019 following shareholder resistance.