Switzerland launches EDGE nationwide

Edge on the abyss

Swisscom has announced a broadband mobile network based on EDGE technology with nationwide coverage. Live television, video streaming and the transmission of large files to phones are now possible nearly everywhere in Switzerland.

EDGE data rates are three times faster than GPRS and increase mobile bandwidth from 30 to as much as 200 kbps. However, a specially enabled mobile phone, such as the Nokia Communicator 9300 (EDGE) or 9500 (EDGE+WLAN), is required for the new network.

Swisscom Mobile also plans to launch an EDGE-enabled PC card this summer. From June, Swisscom Mobile will offer a flat rate of CHF 79 (£35.1) per month for mobile data communication (for up to 1 GB) on all broadband networks. EDGE complements Swisscom Mobile's existing technology mix, which includes UMTS and WLAN.

UMTS requires an entirely new infrastructure of base stations, making the technology far more expensive than EDGE, which is based on the existing GSM technology. Despite its appeal, EDGE isn't widespread yet. Most mobile operators in Europe have been paying governments billions of euros to acquire a UMTS license. Offering a much cheaper EDGE subscription would not help recovering those investments.

Swisscom Mobile says it remains committed to UMTS as the technology of the future, and will continue to expand the network. Swisscom Mobile's UMTS network currently supplies some 90 per cent of the Swiss population and is complemented by more than 800 WLAN hotspots enabling high bandwidths in some locations.

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