Switzerland-based Sunrise lowered revenue guidance slightly for 2020 amid the ongoing uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic, although it maintained its annual outlook for adjusted operating profits or EBITDA.
Like many operators in Europe, Sunrise first started to see some tangible effects of the pandemic in March, mainly owing to a decline in roaming revenue that continued into April. Revenue in 2020 is now forecast at between 1.84 billion Swiss Francs ($1.89 billion) and CHF1.88 billion ($1.93 billion), down from CH1.87 billion-CHF1.91 billion, while adjusted EBITDA guidance is reiterated at CHF675 million ($693 million) to CHF690 million ($709 million).
The operator said it was able to maintain adjusted EBITDA guidance because its performance in the first quarter of 2020 had been relatively robust. Total quarterly revenue increased by 2.8% year-on-year, to CHF459 million ($471 million), while service revenue rose by 3.6%, to CHF384 million ($394 million). Adjusted EBIDTA increased 5.9%, to CHF168 million ($172 million).
However, it has inserted a caveat: If assumptions on a gradual recovery from the pandemic prove too optimistic, Sunrise said it would expect an incremental roaming risk of CHF5 million ($5 million) to CHF10 million ($10 million) to the adjusted EBITDA guidance.
Capex guidance for 2020 has also been maintained in the range of CHF410 million ($421 million) to CHF450 million ($463 million). Sunrise said its 5G network rollout has continued in 2020, with 535 cities and towns covered by 5G in the 3.5GHz band by the beginning of May. The target is to achieve 90% population coverage in the 700MHz by the third quarter.
However, Sunrise continues to gripe about radiation limits that it says are hampering a swifter rollout. According to André Krause, CEO of Sunrise, "the Federal Council continues to make the 5G rollout challenging" with its latest decision to not change the limit values for non-ionizing radiation and the delay in execution guidelines for handling adaptive antennas.
"This will worsen the quality of Switzerland's networks and endanger digitization. Switzerland has already been left behind in terms of fiber optic connections," Krause said.
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— Anne Morris, contributing editor, special to Light Reading