Operators call for urgent revision of Telecommunications Act

8 Sep 2017

A group of nine Swiss telecom service providers and industry stakeholders has issued a joint statement urging the Federal Council to urgently revise the Telecommunications Act (TCA) to prevent the establishment of a new monopoly on combined fibre-optic and copper technologies, i.e. fibre-to-the-cabinet (FTTC), fibre-to-the-street (FTTS) and fibre-to-the-building (FTTB). Multi-play service providers UPC, Sunrise, Green, VTX, Init7, wireless operator Salt, industry groups Suisse Digital and openaxs, and Swiss Fibre Net – a cooperative of local and regional utility firms with open fibre networks – supported the move, calling on the Federal Council to ensure regulatory authorities can guarantee a minimum level of fair competition in broadband infrastructure access in the event of a market failure. In the statement, the group claims that market failures in the past have benefited state-owned incumbent Swisscom and add that, as the TCA in its current form only addresses copper infrastructure, there has not been fair competition ‘for some time’. UPC CEO Eric Tveter underlined the point, noting: ‘Legislation to date has favoured Swisscom’s home protection, resulting in a distortion of the market at the expense of all other market players. We welcome the the proposed revision as a first and important step from the Federal Council towards rectifying this imbalance.’

The statement was issued following an announcement from the Federal Council that it had greenlit partial revisions of the TCA, with the draft changes now only needing approval from parliament. The changes include promotion of consumer rights, improvements to rules governing access to infrastructure and network sharing, greater flexibility with regard to spectrum usage, and additional measures concerning the blocking of sites hosting illegal content.

Illustrating the benefits of improved access to infrastructure, the providers pointed out that: ‘The technology-neutral design of network concessions has already resulted in a considerable surge in innovation and investments. New, more liberal provisions in network cooperation and frequency transfers increase the efficient handling of scant resources. Because of this, Switzerland benefits from further investments in new technology and competition, with the resulting improved supply being particularly beneficial in remote areas.’