Competition watchdog opens investigation into Swisscom FTTH expansion

18 Dec 2020

Switzerland’s Competition Commission (Wettbewerbskommission, WEKO) has opened an investigation into state-owned full-service provider Swisscom. In a statement from WEKO, the regulator noted that there was a risk that Swisscom may exclude competitors from the market though its current fibre network expansion programme. Elaborating on its concerns, WEKO explained that the infrastructure development ‘changes the structure of the network in areas that it is expanding on its own in such a way that competitors no longer have direct access to the network infrastructure.’ Consequently, end users could be restricted in their choice of providers and products. WEKO added that – based on the information currently available to it – it ‘appears credible’ that Swisscom is abusing its dominant market position and, as such, the regulator has prohibited Swisscom from denying access to continuous lines to competitors as a precautionary measure. The regulator has launched an investigation to determine in depth the extent to which Swisscom is abusing its market position.

For its part, Swisscom has rebuffed the accusation and has confirmed that it will file an objection against the precautionary measures imposed by WEKO. Defending its position, the provider claimed that it was engaged in ‘intensive competition’ with alternative providers in the construction and operation of broadband networks, and that it offers a wide variety of wholesale options for its competitors. Regarding WEKO’s accusations, Swisscom stated that its expansion of fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) infrastructure relies on point-to-multipoint architecture and therefore still enables competition. The rollout method is also faster and more cost-efficient, Swisscom argued, adding that both end-users and wholesale customers will benefit from the upgrade by purchasing wholesale upstream products.

Swisscom is currently in the process of expanding its FTTH network with the goal of doubling the number of connections to more than 3.0 million by 2025. By that date between 50% and 60% of Swiss homes would have access to bandwidth of up to 10Gbps, whilst 30% to 40% of the households would have access to download speeds of between 300Mbps and 500Mbps.

Switzerland, Swisscom