Swisscom has confirmed that two joint venture agreements to extend its fibre-optic network to two cities are being examined by the country’s competition authority amid concerns it could reduce competition for broadband internet access. According to Dow Jones, the Swiss Competition Commission (ComCom) will investigate projects in Fribourg and St Gallen to see whether agreements signed by Swisscom with local utility providers could be anti-competitive. ComCom, which has the power to delay work and demand contracts are renegotiated, said there were ‘indications’ that the proposed creation of the Fribourg joint venture ‘established or strengthened a dominant position.’ Swisscom entered into a joint venture with the canton of Fribourg and the west Switzerland-based electricity producer and distributor Groupe E, in autumn 2010. ComCom also said it is launching an investigation into the building of a fibre-optic network in the city of St Gallen, where Swisscom has signed a deal with the local utility provider. The regulator said it expects to reach a decision within four months.
The Fribourg and St Gallen projects are part of Swisscom’s plans to spend CHF2 billion (USD2.12 billion) upgrading bandwidth for around a third of all Swiss households by 2015. Similar projects are underway in Geneva, Zurich, Berne and Basel.