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Switzerland - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 17 Apr 2020 Update History

Report Pages: 232

Switzerland calls halt on 5G amid radiation health fears

Switzerland has a sophisticated telecom sector and enjoys one of the highest broadband penetration rates within the European Union and among the OECD nations. Its competitive mobile market is served by three network operators and a small number of MVNOs while the broadband market is dominated by Swisscom and UPC Switzerland, though there are a large number of smaller players in the market, many providing services to local communities. UPC has gained scale in recent years by acquiring a number of its partner networks. The bid from the full-service provider Sunrise to acquire the operator was called off in late 2019.

Although not a member of the EU, the country’s economic integration has meant that its telecom market deregulation has followed the EU’s liberalisation framework, including the recent regulations on international voice roaming.

The country benefits from universal DSL infrastructure and an expansive cable broadband network, with effective cross-platform competition. The DSL sector commands a diminishing share of the market, while that for fibre has increased rapidly. UPC Switzerland offers broadband in most cities and towns, and its gigabit service is now available across its footprint This network upgrade spurred Swisscom to intensify its VDSL, G.fast and FttP network rollouts in a bid to remain competitive. Swisscom’s planned infrastructure investment over the coming years has been facilitated by cooperative deals struck with regional utility companies.

The government has promoted technologies providing focus on ‘ultra-fast’ broadband, and by the end of 2020 fixed-line networks are expected to deliver at least 100Mb/s to 85% of the population. The extension of mobile broadband services from Swisscom and Sunrise is being supported by the operators closing down 2G infrastructure and repurposing spectrum and physical assets for LTE and, in future, 5G use. Although there are about 2,000 5G-ready mobile antennae, the environment agency in late 2019 urged canton governments to halt 5G transmissions (though development in 5G infrastructure can continue) pending further checks on the health implications of radiofrequency radiation.

This report presents an analysis of Switzerland’s fixed-line telecom market, including an assessment of network infrastructure. It examines the regulatory environment and evaluates the strategies and performance of service providers including Swisscom, UPC Switzerland and Sunrise. The report also assesses the mobile market, including new technologies and profiles of the main operators. In addition, the report reviews the fixed and fixed-wireless broadband segments and the migration to a fibre-abased infrastructure. Subscriber forecasts to 2024 are provided covering a range of services.

BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.

On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.

Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.

The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.

Key developments:

  • Environment agency concerns of 5G tower radiation results in halt of services;
  • Sunrise expands the reach of its 5G network;
  • Fine against Swisscom for unfair DSL pricing confirmed by Federal Supreme Court;
  • Salt extends the reach of its FttP footprint via Swiss Fibre deal;
  • Regulator concludes multi-spectrum auction for 5G services;
  • Sunrise and Swisscom to switch off 2G infrastructure;
  • Swisscom and Ericsson trial 10Gb/s 5G;
  • Federal Council adopts changes to Telecommunications Act;
  • Swisscom deploys LoRa networks;
  • Regulatory measures eliminate FttP network duplication, increase minimum internet speed on Swisscom's USO;
  • UPC Switzerland extends gigabit services across its footprint;
  • Report update includes the regulator's market data for 2018, telcos' operating and financial data to Q4 2019, Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, assessment of the global impact of COVID-19 on the telecoms sector, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

Swisscom, Salt (Orange Switzerland), Sunrise, UPC Switzerland, Swiss Digital

Henry Lancaster
February 2020

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