Switzerland and LiechtensteinWT/TPR/S/208 Page 121
The LTC, last amended in 2007, and the accompanying ordinance (Ordonnance sur les services de telecommunications, OST) are the main legal instruments for Switzerland's telecommunication subsector. The stated objective of the LTC is to ensure private and business users the availability of quality and affordable services, both nationally and internationally. The law also aims to guarantee universal services and efficient competition.
The Federal Communications Commission (ComCom), an independent extra-parliamentary commission, is responsible for regulating telecoms market, including allocation of spectrum licences (e.g. GSM or UMTS) through open tendering, the designation of a universal service provider (by issuing a licence for supply of universal services), dispute settlement regarding interconnection and local loop unbundling, and for the approval of national numbering plans. In April 2007, a general licensing requirement for telecoms service providers was replaced by a general obligation to register. For spectrum use, however, the licence requirement remains unchanged. The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) under the Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy, and Communication (DETEC), acts as secretariat to ComCom. Some tasks of minor regulatory importance (licensing for private radio applications) have been delegated to OFCOM by a decree of ComCom.
Articles 16 and 17 of the LTC provide for the availability of reliable universal services at affordable prices. Universal services comprise: public telephony (connection and transmission of speech and data); access to emergency call services and localization of these calls; an adequate network of public telephone kiosks; access to directories of subscribers in Switzerland; and special services for the hard of hearing and visually impaired. The Federal Council also determines the minimum quality criteria that the universal service provider must fulfil. Following a ComCom public invitation to tender for the universal service licence, Swisscom is the only universal service provider until end 2017.69 The new licence obliges Swisscom to provide a broadband Internet connection in addition to analogue and digital telephone connections. The directory enquiry service, call diversion, and advice of charge are no longer part of the universal service.
Telecommunications services providers with a dominant market position (including suppliers of part of the universal services) must provide interconnection to other suppliers without discrimination and in accordance with transparent and cost-related principles. Interconnection prices of a market-dominant provider are regulated on the basis of the "long-run incremental costs" (LRIC) method applied by most European countries. Dominant providers must publish a basic offer every year. In interconnection disputes, ComCom has to check if an operator is in a dominant position. In such cases, the Federal Competition Commission (ComCo) must provide an opinion to ComCom. The dominance of a provider is analysed according to the rules set by the Cartels Law.
Providers of telecommunications services are required to ensure portability of numbers and freedom of choice in the selection of suppliers of national and international connections. Under the Swiss interconnection regime, suppliers interested in concluding an interconnection contract must first negotiate the terms. If, after a three-month period, the negotiations are unsuccessful, the parties may then appeal to ComCom, which, on the basis of OFCOM's recommendations, will settle the dispute and fix the conditions for interconnection. As established by the LTC, interconnection prices must be cost-oriented only in the presence of market dominance; in the absence of market dominance, they must follow market standards. In the latter case, appeal to ComCom is only possible
69 For further information on the terms and conditions of the concession, see ComCom online information, "Universal service licence for Swisscom". Viewed at: http://www.comcom.admin.ch/ aktuell/00429/00457/00560/index.html?lang=en&msg-id=13239 [20 March 2008].