Swisscom switched on the country’s first commercial 5G network across 54 towns and cities in partnership with Ericsson, with plans to extend services to the rest of the country by the end of the year.

Last week the operator’s CEO set out ambitious plans for its 5G launch and introduced smartphone and mobile router ecosystem partners, although at the time it was still awaiting a green light for the move.

In a statement, Ericsson explained the companies “went live with the network in the first minute of 17 April, following Swisscom’s securing of a commercial 5G licence”.

“As all the other component parts were already in place, securing the licence meant the partners simply had to switch the network on.”

The vendor added the move “opens the door to exploring new opportunities” in the IoT and Industry 4.0.

While Ericsson hailed the network as the first in Europe, Swisscom was more cautious, claiming to be a pioneer in Switzerland only. Among the 54 launch sites are Zurich, Bern, Geneva, Basel, Lausanne and Lucerne.

Swisscom will use Ericsson Spectrum Sharing software to achieve its national target. The vendor explained this “dynamically shares spectrum between 4G and 5G carriers based on traffic demand”.

The operator said the concession awarded by the Federal Communications Commission gives it the right to use the new frequencies for fifteen years, with the expectation of 50 per cent population coverage by 2024.

Ericsson and Swisscom have a worked together before on 5G.

In November 2017, Swisscom selected Ericsson as its strategic partner for Gigabit LTE and 5G. Since then, the companies have “accomplished Europe’s first end-to-end, multivendor 5G non-standalone data call on 3.5 GHz band”, Ericsson stated.