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23 July 2012
Incumbent operator Swisscom is planning to provide homes and businesses outside major urban centers with ultra-high-speed internet connections using equipment from Huawei. The GigaDSL prototype, which the vendor unveiled last year, is able to provide gigabit speeds over short distances of copper cable.
Swisscom has already connected 90 percent of the Swiss population using FTTC, and is deploying optical fiber direct to homes and businesses in 40 towns and municipalities across the country. The operator says it connects an average of one property to the fiber-optic network every two minutes. In collaboration with its partners, Swisscom expects to have rolled out fiber to roughly one-third of Swiss households by the end of 2015.

However, in an announcement on 26 June, Swisscom said it plans to use an alternative approach in areas not already covered by FTTH plans.  From the end of 2013, Swisscom will install optical fiber to within a distance of around 200m from homes, an approach that the operator is calling “fiber to the street” (FTTS).  Huawei’s GigaDSL system will be used to transmit signals over the remaining short distance of telephone cable to the homes.

Huawei’s GigaDSL system employs time-division duplexing (TDD) to achieve a total upstream and downstream rate of 1000Mbps over a single twisted-pair cable. It also reduces electromagnetic interference and power consumption, providing a total upstream and downstream rate of 1Gbps up to 100m, and 500Mbps-plus within 200m.

This summer, Swisscom will be launching three FTTS pilot tests in the municipalities of Charrat (Valais), Grandfontaine (Jura) and Flerden (Grisons). Swisscom will also support competition by providing wholesale offers to other service providers over the new access technology.

The incumbent says that its network will continue to rely on a mix of technologies.  In addition to its plans for FTTS, the operator is considering network expansion based on fibre-to-the-building (FTTB) and upgrades to its existing FTTC infrastructure. Including mobile infrastructure, Swisscom plans to invest around CHF 1.7 billion (€1.4 billion) on infrastructure in 2012 alone.
By Pauline Rigby