The IoT is the networking of objects over the internet, such as, for example, industrial machines, cars, TVs and washing machines. Billions of "intelligent objects" are being created as a result of this networking and the ever-increasing proliferation of sensors in (everyday) objects. However, a standard definition of the IoT has not yet been adopted by the various participants involved.
These billions of networked objects are intended to provide support for people in their everyday lives and at the same time generate an enormous amount of structured data, which can be used for analyses and optimisations. The IoT is therefore one of the most important data providers in relation to Big Data.
Various studies assume strong growth in networked IoT objects over the next few years. Ericsson, for example, assumes in the 2018 Mobility Report that in 2023 some 31.4 billion devices will be networked, 23.3 billion of which will be IoT objects and 11.6 billion conventional devices such as PCs, smartphones and fixed-network telephones.
Cybersecurity and data protection are important prerequisites for the continuing evolution of the IoT. The networked objects generate a very large quantity of data, some of it sensitive, which is carried over the network infrastructure of the various providers. At the strategic level, the Confederation wishes, through the Digital Switzerland strategy, to create general conditions to ensure that cybersecurity and data protection are ready to meet future requirements. The Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (FDPIC) is responsible for data protection issues which are relevant to the IoT. MELANI, the Federal Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance, deals with issues relating to cybersecurity and is also the contact point for reporting attacks. The European Agency for Network and Information Security (ENISA) has published additional information on security and cyberprotection.
Roaming charges may be incurred by IoT objects, e.g. vehicles with built-in SIM cards or smart watches. Regulation is not provided for in the current Telecommunications Act (TCA) but will have to be examined after the entry into force of the revised TCA in the form of international agreements. The service provider is responsible for specific questions concerning roaming charges.
Manufacturers of IoT objects must comply with OFCOM's conformity regulations in order to ensure that communication between objects from different manufacturers is as free from interference as possible.
OFCOM is responsible for addressing resources such as mobile telephone numbers. These are also used for IoT objects. OFCOM is monitoring the evolution of demand to enable prompt intervention if addressing resources should become scarce.
Radio frequencies / spectrum
Most IoT objects are connected to the internet over a wireless network, e.g. LoRa, Wi-Fi or 5G, and require spectrum/frequency resources as well as protection from interference. OFCOM is responsible for the management of these resources in Switzerland and accordingly ensures that sufficient frequencies or spectrum can be found for the various applications.
The development of the IoT is forging ahead throughout the world. In order to be able to evaluate regulatory requirements promptly, OFCOM is monitoring developments in the international environment and various standardization bodies. Developments, for example concerning built-in SIM cards, requirements in terms of spectrum resources and dealing with proprietary IoT solutions, are carefully monitored.
Frequently asked questions
In accordance with the current TCA, an IoT service provider must be registered as a TSP if it meets all three of the following conditions:
- Telecommunication transmission takes place, i.e. electrical, magnetic, optical or other electromagnetic sending or receiving of information by wire or cable or by radio.
- Information is transferred, i.e. symbols, signals, characters, images, sounds or representations of any kind for humans, other living beings or machines.
- The information must be for third parties, i.e. not for oneself (one’s own use) but for other legal or natural persons. No such third-party relationships exist within a business, between parent companies and subsidiaries or within a group of companies.
A guide with further information concerning registration can be found here.
Last modification 18.03.2021