Sun sets on Swiss operator Sunrise's 2G network

James Pearce
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Swiss operator Sunrise is to axe 2G services by 2018 in order to refarm spectrum for 4G and 4G+

Sunrise, the Swiss mobile operator, has become the latest telco to unveil plans to switch off 2G services in order to free up spectrum for LTE.

CEO Olaf Swantee, who joined the firm from EE last year following its acquisition by BT, said it wishes to remove “outdated” GSM, GPRS, and Edge connectivity from its network.

It will expand its deployment of 4G and 4G+ services in Switzerland by switching off 2G by the end of 2018, offering “attractive” upgrade packages for current 2G users.

Swantee said: "We are breaking new ground again by acting on the Swiss Federal Council’s report on future-ready mobile phone networks , well ahead of our competitors: By the end of 2018, we will remove the old 2G technology from our network and accelerate the expansion of 4G and 4G+ for our customers. 

“The key thing to note here is that we will offer attractive upgrade options to our 2G customers and customized solutions to our business customers. These will allow them to benefit from the essentially "defect-free" network we are working towards, with much better coverage and voice call quality. 

“By increasing bandwidth and providing 4G coverage across 92% of Switzerland by the end of the year, we aim to set the Swiss quality standard for mobile calling and fast mobile Internet yet again.”

Sunrise also unveiled plans to launch a voice over LTE (VoLTE) offering, following its launch of WiFi Calling in spring of this year. Sunrise did not disclose a timeframe for its 4G calling plans.

The move follows similar announcements from a number of operators worldwide. In January, AT&T became one of the first mobile providers to axe its 2G network, with rivals Verizon and AT&T set to follow suit.

Telefonica also exclusively unveiled plans to switch off its 2G network, but said this is unlikely to happen before 2020. Swisscom, a major rival to Sunrise, has also set 2020 as a timeframe for when it will switch off its 2G services.