Telecommunications: consultation on changes to the universal service
Biel/Bienne, 29.09.2015 - Adapting the universal service in relation to telecommunications to needs and to technological developments: this is the objective of the revision of the Telecommunication Services Ordinance (TSO) put out for consultation by the Federal Office of Communications OFCOM. From 2018 onwards, it is expected that internet access will no longer be linked to the rental of a telephone line. The user will be able to benefit from a higher speed than at present, i.e. 3000/300 kbit/s. The subscription price for a fixed telephone will have to include all calls to the fixed and mobile networks in Switzerland. Its price will be limited to CHF 27.20 per month. In addition, the obligation to provide a public telephone in every municipality will be lifted. Interested parties have until 1 December 2015 to express their opinion.
In the context of the procedure for awarding the next universal service licence, the Federal Office of Communications is putting out for consultation the draft revision of the TSO, the ordinance which defines the content of this universal service. The amendments take into account the needs of consumers and businesses as well as technological developments. The current licence, awarded to Swisscom, will expire at the end of 2017.
Three new connection offerings
In future, the universal service licensee will no longer offer traditional analogue and digital connections (ISDN) but will centre its offerings on a multipurpose connection based on IP (Internet Protocol) technology. Developments in technologies and telecommunication services justifies this switch to IP technology for communication networks. Consumers will be able to choose from three offerings: telephony, the internet or a combination of the two. As in the past, the ordinance sets monthly ceiling prices (excluding VAT) which will be CHF 27.20 for telephony and CHF 58.75 for combined telephone and internet. In these two cases, calls to fixed and mobile networks in Switzerland are included in these amounts. Internet access only will cost CHF 44.85 per month. In order to fix these maximum amounts, legislators used the current prices, taking into account the specific features of the new offerings. To ensure that everyone can benefit from the services forming part of the universal services in high quality, the minimum speed for internet access will be increased to 3000/300 kbit/s, i.e. an increase of 1000/100 kbit/s compared to the current situation.
New service for the hearing impaired
The provision of a relay service in sign language by video-telephony for the hearing-impaired will enhance the range of services intended to support the social integration of the disabled. The current services - transcription and relaying of short messages for the hearing-impaired and the directory and switching service for visually impaired persons and persons with reduced mobility - are retained in the universal service.
Withdrawal of some services
Some services will be withdrawn from the universal service either because they no longer meet an essential need or because competing products or alternative services exist in the market. This cessation includes barring of outgoing calls, narrowband data transmission, the fax service and the provision of at least one public payphone in every Swiss municipality.
The process for awarding the licence
Interested parties are invited to express their opinion of the draft revision of the ordinance by 1 December 2015. Once the new TSO has been approved by the Federal Council, the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom) will be able to prepare the procedure for awarding the new universal service licence. The current licence was awarded in 2007 to Swisscom for a term of 10 years.
Address for enquiries
Federal Office of Communications OFCOM
Press service, +41 58 460 55 50, firstname.lastname@example.org
Federal Office of Communications