Switzerland’s telecoms regulator the Federal Office of Communications (Bundesamt fur Kommunikation, BAKOM) has opened a consultation on potential changes to the Telecommunications Services Ordinance (TSO) with regard to universal services. The revisions propose that, from 2018: internet access will no longer be linked to the rental of a telephone line; users will benefit from higher access speeds than at present (3Mbps/300kbps downlink/uplink compared to the current 2Mbps/200kbps); subscription prices for a fixed telephone line will include all calls to fixed and mobile lines in Switzerland, for a maximum of CHF27.2 (USD27.94) per month, and; there will no longer be an obligation to provide a public telephone in every municipality. Under the revised TSO, consumers will be offered three basic offerings; telephony, internet, or a combination of internet and telephony. BAKOM has determined ceiling prices for these services as CHF27.2, CHF44.85 and CHF58.75 per month, respectively.
The proposals also called for the provision of a new relay service in sign language by video-telephony for hearing-impaired customers. This would be offered alongside the existing suite of services for hearing and visually impaired customers. In addition to the withdrawal of the requirement for public telephones, narrowband data transmission, barring of outgoing calls and fax services will no longer be included in the universal service licence.
The changes are intended to update the TSO, which defines the features of universal service, to take into account the changing needs of customers and business, as well technological developments. ‘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 technology,’ BAKOM said in a statement, adding: ‘Developments in technologies and telecommunication services justifies this switch to IP technology for communication networks.’ The current universal licence, held by Swisscom, was awarded in 2007 and expires at end-2017. The regulator has invited comments to be submitted by 1 December 2015.