Mobile communications: evolution towards 5G

Every year the volume of data exchanged on the mobile network doubles. The introduction of the 3rd generation 3G (UMTS) in the middle of the 2000s, and then the rollout of the 4th generation 4G (LTE) from 2012 onwards made it possible to cover requirements, until now. These technologies, however, are now reaching their limits. The introduction of 5G will make it possible to appreciably increase data transmission capacities.

Grafik 5G (Stadt)

Frequently asked Questions

The FAQs provide additional information on 5G relating to technology, antennas, frequency allocations, licences and responsibilities.

New technology, new antennas

For the deployment of 5G, operators are installing new 'adaptive antennas' that transmit information specifically to individual users who therefore benefit from optimal data transmission rate. In all other directions, transmission power is reduced.

Left: adaptive antenna / Right: traditional antenna

The following explanatory video, produced by OFCOM, shows how adaptive antennas improve reception for mobile telephony users while reducing the impact on surrounding areas. Based on the actual parameters of an antenna located in a residential area, the video illustrates, thanks to simulations, how radio waves propagate in this neighbourhood.

Requirements met for operating adaptive antennas

Mobile network operators' adaptive 5G antennas fulfil the implementing guidelines to the Ordinance on Protection against Non-Ionising Radiation (NIRO). This was the result of an in-depth examination of network operators by OFCOM. Both the automatic power lock and the quality assurance systems of the antennas meet the legal requirements. This means that the cantons can approve the use of adaptive antennas in mobile networks.

First tests and measurements by OFCOM on adaptive antennas (summer 2020)

In March 2020, the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC) tasked OFCOM with conducting tests on adaptive antennas. The measurements and simulations conducted in the course of this task were recorded in the report "Testkonzession und Messungen adaptive Antennen" of 24 September 2020 in German.

5G networks

5G networks mark a revolution in the world of mobile communications as they open the door to new application areas, in particular in relation to the Internet of Things (IoT), communications between machines (M2M), ultra-broadband applications, autonomous cars, etc…

Compared with the current 3G and 4G mobile communication technologies, 5G offers significant advantages, in particular for the development of new technologies.

The 3 application areas of 5G

The benefits of 5G

  • the reaction time (latency) of less than one millisecond is 30 to 50 times shorter than that of 4G,
  • the data transfer rate of 10 Gbit/s is 100 times greater than that of 4G,
  • the number of terminals which can be connected simultaneously is 100 times greater, allowing one million connected objects per km2.
Evolution from 4G to 5G applications

Stages for the rollout of 5G

  • November 2017: the Federal Council reserves the frequency bands (700MHz and 3.5 GHz) for mobile communications,
  • December 2017: an initial version of the standards for the 5G becomes available
  • during 2018: the first devices for 5G become available,
  • February 2019: the Communications Commission ComCom awards the new frequencies to the mobile communication operators, with the 3.5 GHz band as the initial band for the rollout of 5G,
  • during 2019: 5G starts in Switzerland.

The factsheet below provides an overview of the technology 5G.

Last modification 12.01.2024

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