Number of mobile telephony customers

The number of mobile telephony users in Switzerland has increased steadily since its emergence in 1978 and until 2014. The first prepayment card (Swisscom's natel easy) for mobile telephones was introduced in October 1996.

Services on mobile radiocommunication networks (GSM, NMT or UMTS) / Number of customers as of 31.12. according to the type of contract (Table SM1)
Number of customers (as of 31.12.) 2017 2018 2019 2020 Var. 19-20
Number of customers with contracts   7'562'629 7'919'087 8'139'157  8'294'169 1.9%
Number of active customers without contracts (prepaid cards)   3'525'968 2'869'515 2'747'491 2'711'891 -1.3%
Total number of customers (with and without subscriptions) 11'088'598  10'788'602 10'886'648 11'006'060 1.1%
Of which those who changed operator during the period form 01.01 to 31.12 without changing their number       401'567 456'202 542'836  602'784 11.0%
In % of the total 3.62% 4.23% 4.99% 5.48% 9.8%

Number of mobile telephony customers

Penetration rate as of 31.12. (Table SM2)
  2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Total number of customers (with and without subscriptions) 11'240'971 11'088'598 10'788'602 10'886'648 11'006'060
Penetration rate in % 133.6% 130.7% 126.3% 126.5% 127.0%
Number of users without a subscription (prepaid cards) as % of the total number of customers 35% 32% 27% 25% 24.6%

Two methods are available for measuring the penetration rate of mobile telephony within the population:

  • the arithmetical method: the number of subscriptions is divided by the resident population, as was performed in table SM2;
  • investigation by sampling the population.

The second method is better and gives a more reliable result because it avoids duplication and "false customers". It is also more expensive. 

In 2007, OFCOM commissioned the MIS Trend Institute to carry out a survey of users of mobile telecommunication services. The mobile telephone penetration rate within the population was measured from 12 March to 20 May 2007 as part of this survey. It appears that 80% of the population aged over 15 years had a mobile telephone, whereas in late 2006 the arithmetical penetration rate shown in table SM2 reached 99.1%.

We attribute this difference to the following factors:

  • double counting (people with several SIM cards);
  • persons domiciled abroad using Swiss SIM cards to benefit from the national tariffs and avoid the cost of roaming;
  • equipment fitted with SIM cards in order to communicate with other equipment or with users;
  • other.

Details of this study can be found on the OFCOM website at the following address:

Facts and figures

In the following Excel file, you will find detailed information, figures and graphs.

Specialist staff
Last modification 07.03.2022

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