The universal service guarantees that basic telecommunications services are available throughout Switzerland, at an affordable price and of a specified quality. Its provision is guaranteed by a licence, awarded in principle at the conclusion of a public tender procedure organised by the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom). The scope of the universal service is reviewed periodically by the Federal Council.
The universal service licensee must make available to consumers various telecommunications services, i.e.:
the public telephone service (making and receiving national and international telephone calls in real time, with one or three telephone numbers);
an entry in the public telephone service subscriber directory (households are entitled to a second free entry);
an internet access service guaranteeing a transmission speed of 10/1 Mbit/s (in exceptional cases, this speed may be lower).
specific services intended for the hearing-impaired, the partially-sighted and persons with reduced mobility are also provided within the framework of the universal service (transcription services, short message (SMS) relay services, video-telephony relay services and directory and switching services).
- The following elements have been removed from 2018 onwards:
- - analogue and ISDN connections;
- - telefax;
- - narrowband data transmission;
- - barring of outgoing calls;
- - charged-for public telephones (phone boxes);
- - access to the emergency service (an obligation incumbent on all public telephony providers).
- The following elements have been added to the licence from 2018 onwards:
- - a single multi-functional connection based on the IP protocol;
- - a transcription service by video telephony for the hearing-impaired.
The Federal Council regularly fixes ceiling prices for the services forming part of the universal service. Although these prices apply uniformly across the whole area covered by the licence, the universal service licensee does, however, remain free to offer lower prices.
From 1 January 2018 onwards, the following ceiling prices apply (exclusive of VAT):
- - putting a connection into service: CHF 40.00 (one-off charge);
- - public telephone service with one telephone number and one or two entries in the subscriber directory (including connection): CHF 23.45 per month;
- - public telephone service with three telephone numbers (including the connection): CHF 16.55 per month in addition to the amount charged for the public telephone service with one telephone number (CHF 23.45 per month);
- - internet access service (including the connection): CHF 45 per month;
- - public telephone service with one telephone number and one or two entries in the subscriber directory and internet access service (including the connection): CHF 55 per month.
- - CHF 0.075 per minute for national calls on the national fixed network;
- - CHF 0.034 per minute for transcription services for the hearing-impaired;
- - Calls are billed by the second and rounded up to the next 10 centimes.
No finance is necessary for the time being as the current licensee has not requested any financial compensation. If it reverses its decision, a levy will be charged on telecommunications service providers in proportion to their turnover. Those providers with relevant turnover below a specified threshold are exempt from paying the levy.
The universal service licensee was awarded to Swisscom, which must guarantee the services forming the universal service until the end of 2022.
To obtain a broadband connection, consumers should apply to Swisscom, the current universal service licensee.
Under the terms of the universal service licence, Swisscom is obliged to make a broadband connection available at a maximum price of CHF 45 per month (excluding VAT). This connection must allow connection to the internet at a minimum speed of 10 Mbit/s (download) and 1 Mbit/s (upload).
In some exceptional cases, the licensee is authorised to reduce performance for a broadband connection and limit its speed. The licensee is free to choose the technology which it deems the most appropriate for providing this service. It should be noted that the universal service licensee is not obliged to provide broadband access when a comparable alternative offering is offered on the market by another operator.
The technology used to provide the universal service is not laid down. The licensee may therefore use the technology or technologies which it deems the most appropriate.
At present, Swisscom covers over 98% of Swiss territory using DSL technology. In the regions which are not covered, the licensee may choose the most appropriate wireless technology (satellite, UMTS, HSPA or LTE) in order to be able to provide a broadband connection.
The connection speed may be reduced for technical or economic reasons. The DSL technology mainly used by the universal service licensee to provide a broadband connection sometimes comes up against technical limits, for example when the distance between the subscriber and the telephone exchange is too great. Furthermore, in some regions the provision of a DSL line may involve substantial investment. In this case the licensee may choose to provide the service using other, less costly technologies, thereby reducing the cost of the universal service.
Connection using DSL technology is dependent on the distance between the subscriber and the telephone exchange. If this distance is excessive, the internet access speed may therefore be limited, even in an urban area. In some cases, a broadband connection may be provided using other technologies such as satellite, mobile radio or microwave links.
The scope of the universal service is determined by the Federal Council, which decided not to include mobile telephony in the universal service, on the basis that it has not been necessary to intervene using regulatory measures to ensure that the mobile telephony market develops satisfactorily in Switzerland. Since liberalisation, the introduction and subsequent growth of competition has produced the desired effects. At present, for example, the mobile networks cover the entire population and users have access to numerous offerings on the market which are able to best meet their needs.
The services forming the universal service are subject to quality criteria and the periods for putting universal service connections into service must meet these criteria. As a general rule, 99% of connections not requiring any physical modification must be put into service within seven days. However, these are average annual values which the universal service licensee must comply with. These values are not applicable to a specific case.
As a general rule, the services forming the universal service must be provided up to the building entry point. So in principle, connection to the building is the responsibility of the licensee, whilst the internal installation is the responsibility of the building’s owner. If the building is located outside an inhabited area, the owner must bear any installation costs above a threshold of CHF 20,000.
In this case please contact Swisscom to request an upgrade of the bandwidth to 10 Mbit/s (download) and 1 Mbit/s (upload). If Swisscom cannot increase the speed for technical or economic reasons, you have the right to request an alternative, either via mobile radio, microwave mobile network or by satellite link. If you absolutely insist on retaining DSL technology, you will have to accept a lower speed.
Yes, it is possible, for example, to request the public telephone service only (at a price of CHF 23.45 per month) or only the broadband internet access service (at a price of CHF 45 per month).
Yes, until 31 December 2021 the universal service licensee must provide any customer who requests it with an analogue interface or an ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network) interface at the network termination point. It cannot bill any costs for this.
Last modification 01.01.2020