A better telecommunications universal service and faster internet access
Bern, 02.12.2016 - Telephone line, internet access or a combination of the two: all Swiss households will soon be able to choose between these three universal service offerings. On 2 December 2016, the Federal Council approved the revision of the Telecommunications Services Ordinance (TSO), which defines the scope of the universal service in relation to telecommunications from 2018 onwards. From that date, classic analogue and digital connections will be replaced by a multifunctional connection. Furthermore, the minimum internet access speed will be increased to 3000/300 kbits/s and the services for people with disabilities will be expanded. It will now be up to the Communications Commission (ComCom) to proceed with the award of the new licence, as the existing licence will expire at the end of 2017.
The services which will form part of the universal service in relation to telecommunications from 2018 and the terms under which they are provided are laid down in the revised Telecommunications Services Ordinance (TSO) adopted by the Federal Council. It introduces new basic telecommunications services which will be available to all households in Switzerland in future. Some services will be removed from the universal service, either because they no longer meet an essential need or because competing alternative products or services are available on the market.
New feature: a multifunctional connection
The greatest innovation is the replacement of analogue and digital ISDN connections. These will be replaced by a single multifunctional connection based on IP (Internet Protocol) technology. Users will be able to choose between just a telephone line, to combine it with internet access or – and this has not been possible in the past – to opt for an internet connection on its own. They will also be able to surf the internet faster, since the minimum speed will be increased by 1000/100 kbit/s to 3000/300 kbit/s. Finally, every household will be able to request a free supplementary entry in the directory. This measure, for example, will allow married couples where each spouse has kept their name to appear under both surnames.
The services for the disabled are also being extended: in addition to offerings such as SMS transcription or directory services, the universal service will also include a sign-language relay service for conversations via video telephony for those with impaired hearing.
Stable price for the basic connection
In the revision of the TSO, the Federal Council has taken account of the opinions expressed during the public consultation held in the autumn of 2015. More than 70 representatives from cantons, the political parties, the trade unions, businesses, operators, disabled organisations and other associations had expressed their position on the various proposals. In this context, the new feature involving the introduction of a maximum price which would include all calls was dropped. The ceiling price for a basic connection remains unchanged at CHF 23.45. The new offering relating to the internet connection on its own is subject to a maximum of CHF 45. Lastly, the combination of the two services will continue to be charged at CHF 55.
Changes in the offering
In future, narrowband data transmission, fax and barring of outgoing calls will no longer form part of the universal service. Likewise, the obligation to provide a public telephone in every municipality will be dropped. Operators will be able to continue to provide these services under market conditions. On the other hand, the universal service licensee will no longer be obliged to provide them, since they are no longer regarded as essential or they can be replaced by competing products or alternative services on the market which can meet the needs of the population.
Award of the universal service licence
The universal service licence, which has been held by Swisscom since 2008, will expire at the end of 2017. It is now up to the Communications Commission to define the features of the new licence, which will be valid from 2018 onwards, as well as the conditions under which it will be awarded.
Address for enquiries
Federal Office of Communications,
OFCOM Press Service,
+41 58 460 55 50, email@example.com
The Federal Council
General Secretariat of the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications; General Secretariat DETEC
Federal Office of Communications