Swisscom has been working with Ericsson as its strategic mobile network partner since 2015. In the meantime it has inked a number of expanded deals with the Swedish vendor, including a 2021 agreement to transition the operator’s 5G network to standalone (SA) mode.

In April, the partners extended their strategic partnership for another three years, stating that the ambition is to transform Swisscom’s network into a smart network. Fierce Network caught up with the Swiss operator to ask what this expanded agreement is all about.

Smart approach

According to Swisscom spokesperson Sabrina Hubacher, the broad aims of the extended agreement are to further modernize the network through automation, the use of artificial intelligence and increased innovation, “with the clear aim of continuing to offer our customers the best customer experience in the future.”

She notes that Swisscom’s network is already powered by electricity from renewable energy sources. “Together, Swisscom and Ericsson are going one step further and have launched an Energy Sustainability Program aimed at intelligently and innovatively reducing the energy consumption of mobile communications systems,” she said.

A further aspect of the agreement will be the introduction of Ericsson Intelligent Automation Platform (EIAP), which Ericsson said means Swisscom can take advantage of its rApps portfolio. Hubacher added that EIAP enables automation and said Swisscom “will now discuss with Ericsson how this platform can support the Swiss mobile network.”

5G SA remains on roadmap

Meanwhile, Swisscom is still unable to provide any further information on the planned move to 5G SA, although Hubacher confirmed that 5G core and 5G SA “remain on our roadmap.”

The carrier has been offering non standalone (NSA) 5G since 2019, meaning that its radio access network (RAN) sites are upgraded to 5G, but its core network is still based on 4G.

Swisscom told Fierce last year that there is no rush for standalone 5G because the operator is able to serve all its current customer use cases with its NSA 5G network. The operator has also been working with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to build its 5G core in the cloud, and previously said it is making sure everything that’s moved to AWS works with Ericsson’s technology.

As for open RAN, Hubacher described it as an “interesting industry topic that Swisscom is pursuing” but said it is “not yet clear when and with which components we will use open RAN.”

As things stand, Ericsson remains Swisscom’s main supplier and strategic partner in the area of mobile communications, supplying all active components that process and amplify signals such as network devices and internet routers.

Hubacher noted that passive components may also come from other suppliers such as Huber&Suhner, Huawei, Commscope, Laird, Cisco, Nokia and others.

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