LIVE FROM HUAWEI GLOBAL MBB FORUM 2021, DUBAI: Sunrise CTO Elmar Grasser slated regulators for slowing the pace of the operator’s aggressive 5G rollout plans, arguing network quality is the cornerstone of a successful business.

The Sunrise executive highlighted challenges in securing permits for 5G deployments caused by local regulations, noting the issue affects all of Europe and significantly raises the cost of rollouts.

Grasser (pictured, right) explained the issue “is really a European problem. The regulators make it very difficult”.

“This is really a dangerous situation”, he noted, explaining because 5G is important for society and an enabler for many industries any lag means “we are going to have a problem”.

The Sunrise executive explained when management asked if it could afford to have a very high quality 5G network, which would increase the payback period, he replied “having a bad network would be very expensive” as customers are calling you all the time and the “poor guy in customer service can’t really solve the problem”.

Since he joined the company in 2013, when it had a “terrible network”, Sunrise invested heavily and made gains in net promoter score and subscriber numbers, with post-paid up 50 per cent since 2015.

Grasser insisted delivering consistent quality across Switzerland is vital to Sunrise. “Avoiding a bad experience is much more important” than having the fastest speeds in limited areas.

He acknowledged many customers remained on Sunrise’s 4G network and so had yet to experience the benefits of 5G.

But he is taking a long-term view. Surveys show a 5G customer is happier than 4G. “To product a gigabyte in 5G is much more efficient than 4G, so we believe we have the right strategy”.

Some 10 per cent of Sunrise’s total network traffic is now from 5G, with the figure growing by half a percentage point each week.