Mobile Communications and the Environment

With its mobile communications network, Sunrise is building and operating a modern, high-performance infrastructure to significantly advance digitalization in Switzerland for the benefit of society and the economy. As a company aware of its social responsibility, Sunrise is also addressing the impact of mobile communications on the environment, and supports research in this area. 

The Swiss population spends a great deal of time using mobile devices and services. Our customers take out communications subscriptions for this purpose and rightly expect to be able use their devices everywhere. To meet these needs, Sunrise is constantly expanding its mobile network.

It might seem that network expansion is not necessary in some places because there is existing coverage. However, due to data traffic (mobile Internet, apps, etc.) doubling every 12 to 17 months, additional antennas are needed to increase capacity and avoid congestion. Sunrise has the best mobile network and continues to do its utmost to offer customers the best possible network.

To make mobile connections work, it is necessary for antennas to be located wherever people using mobile devices are, especially in residential and commercial areas. Additionally, the closer that base stations are to mobile users, reception is better and less power is needed by their phones to transmit.

Many factors are carefully checked when selecting a location (such as environmental guidelines, building regulations, townscape, landscape protection, zoning, etc.), to be added to the existing network. Of course, we make every effort to take all interests into account where possible.

Mobile network connections are established via electromagnetic fields (non-ionizing radiation). The report of the Federal Council: "Future-Proof Mobile Networks", dated February 25, 2015, says: "The only damaging effect of high-frequency radiation on people that has been scientifically demonstrated beyond a doubt is the warming of body tissue due to absorption of radiation.

To protect the public, the Federal Council has issued the Ordinance on Protection from Non-ionizing Radiation (NISV). This defines limit values to protect the entire environment (including people and animals) against all scientifically recognized health effects.

Nevertheless, there are continual claims that radiation from cell towers is harmful to health, or even carcinogenic. In fact, electromagnetic fields have been thoroughly analyzed, and research so far has shown no evidence of harmful effects on health.

The "installation limit values" specify the maximum amount of radiation allowed to be present at a single location. In Switzerland, these are ten times tighter than in most other countries and must be complied with everywhere that people are likely to be present for extended periods, such as homes, schools, hospitals, offices, etc.

In connection with the introduction of 5G, the Federal Communications Commission ComCom determined the following: "On the one hand, this can remedy the capacity bottlenecks in the current 4G mobile networks. On the other hand, it involves important frequencies for the future 5G mobile communications technology. The timely introduction of 5G is of great importance for digitalization and innovation in Switzerland. In order for the frequencies to be used optimally, the very strict radiation limit values for mobile communications (NISV) need to be adjusted." The new mobile communications frequencies will be allocated in an auction, expected to take place in January 2019.

Despite full scientific clarification, in the opinion of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), the existing limit values and guidelines offer sufficient protection for people, animals, and the environment.

Additional information: