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IV. trade policies by sector - page 33 / 50





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WT/TPR/S/208Trade Policy Review Page 122

to ensure interoperability of services forming part of the universal service.  Cross-subsidization of telecommunications services is not legally prohibited.


As established by Article 22 of the OST, the Federal Council fixes upper price limits for telephone connection for users, and national calls.  From 1 January 2008, the provisions on universal services guarantee everyone's right to an analogue connection for a maximum of Sw F 23.45 per month (excl. VAT) or a digital connection (ISDN or a comparable technology) for Sw F 40.00 per month, or a broadband internet connection for Sw F 69.00 per month.  The upper price limits for national telephone calls were set at Sw F 0.075 per minute (excluding VAT).  In order to finance uncovered costs of universal services, OFCOM may charge a fee on other telecommunications services but, according to the authorities, this has never been imposed


An amendment to the LTC, opening the way for the liberalization of the "last mile", entered into force in April 2007.  Unbundling of the local loop is to be achieved by offering competing suppliers two options to have access to the last mile. Under the first option, the supplier may operate his own facilities for broadband and other services on the premises of the dominant supplier.  The copper cable between the customer and the connection centre of the dominant supplier is simply switched to the new supplier, who provides his/her services exclusively to the customer (full unbundling).  Under the second option, the competing supplier may offer broadband services using the dominant supplier's equipment for a maximum period of four years, with the latter providing all other services.  During the four-year period, the competing supplier must install the necessary equipment to be able to offer the other services (bitstream access).  Under both options, prices between the competing and the dominant suppliers are freely negotiated.70  In case of disagreement, the ComCom determines a price based on cost. 71


The LTC allows OFCOM to prohibit companies established abroad to provide telecommunication services in Switzerland unless similar rights are granted to Swiss companies in the home country of the company.  However, this provision has never been used.  The revised LTC also provides for the creation of a conciliation body to resolve simply and quickly any disputes between users and providers of telecom services;  the body became operational in July 2008.  It also bans the mass mailing of unsolicited advertising messages (spamming).  


Swisscom has remained the largest company in Switzerland's telecom subsector and is the market leader in every telecoms activity either under its own brand or through its subsidiaries.  With a staff of some 19,800, it generated a turnover of some Sw F 11.1 billion in 2007.  As at June 2008, the Federal Government held 52% of Swisscom's shares, down from 66% in 2005.  Plans to fully privatize Swisscom were rejected by the National Council in 2006.  No privileges are associated with the state ownership.  In January 2007, Swisscom's market shares were 58.1% for fixed telephony, 62.3% for mobile telephony, and 42.3% for internet access lines.  Since April 2007, access to leased lines is regulated by ComCom.  


Since the last TPR of Switzerland and Liechtenstein in 2004, telecommunications has continued to be an important area of activity of the Price Controller (Chapter III(4)(iii)).  In 2007, the

70 While the amendment to the LTC is largely based on the EC's legal framework, this provision giving primacy to negotiations is in contrast to EC legislation.

71 As at August 2008, the price of local loop unbundling (the first option) is being evaluated by ComCom;  a decision is expected by autumn 2008.  The implementation of bitstream access (the second option) is blocked in legal procedures. ComCom decided in Autumn 2007 that Swisscom is dominant regarding the provision of bitstream access.  However, Swisscom, filed a recourse against this decision.  The case is pending before the Federal Administrative Court.

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