Swisscom latest to claim 5G first in live network demo

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Swisscom has secured the first over the air connection on a live 3.5GHz 5G network by connecting a prototype smartphone.

The operator worked with Qualcomm and Taiwanese hardware vendor Wistron NeWeb, which built the mobile hotspot. Two devices were connected in Lucerne outside of a lab environment.

Urs Schaeppi, CEO of Swisscom, said: “One year ago, in cooperation with Ericsson, we presented the first laboratory applications. Today, we are taking the next step by presenting a 5G smartphone prototype for the first time in real conditions on our 5G network.”

Shaeppi said Switzerland's future as an innovation hub hinges on the deployment of 5G. It is planning to roll out the technology to 60 cities across the country by the end of next year.

Parts of Lucerne, Bern, Geneva, Zurich and Burgdorf have been connected to the 3.5GHz network.

[Read more: Swisscom upgrades wireless transport network in latest stage of 5G prep]

Swisscom's CEO said: “Though many applications are in the pipeline, they are still at an early stage. Back when 3G was launched, people doubted whether mobile Internet was necessary at all. Today, we know that mobile applications on 3G and 4G have revolutionised our daily lives. Now we’ve reached the same point with 5G.”

In September, Burgdorf was the venue for Switzerland's first end-to-end 5G New Radio data call. It also trialled fixed wireless internet access in the remote village of Guttanen over the summer.

However, the operator has been a longstanding critic of the country's government, accusing it of holding back the deployment of 5G through restrictive policymaking related to the supposedly harmful effects of radio waves.