The Swiss telecommunications market has changed significantly since liberalisation began 25 years ago, on 1 January 1998.
In 1997, for example, there were fewer than one million mobile communications customers. Until market liberalisation on 1 January 1998, only Telecom PTT, today's Swisscom, held a mobile communications licence. After ComCom awarded two new GSM licences to diAx and Orange in April 1998, paving the way for competition on the mobile communications market, the number of customers rose rapidly: in 1999, there were already three million, four years later six million, and today over 10.5 million.
At the same time, a continual decline in the number of fixed-network customers has been observed – there were over six million at the turn of the millennium and currently fewer than three million. The public payphones have gradually disappeared from the scene too. There were almost 60,000 public payphones in Switzerland 25 years ago, of which almost 10,000 were part of universal service. In 2017, there were fewer than 3,000, and they have no longer been part of universal service since 2018.
As far as fixed-network internet is concerned, fewer than half a million people had an internet connection in Switzerland in 1998. Today, the number of contracts stands at four million, and Switzerland has had the highest share of the population with broadband access for many years amongst the OECD countries.
Despite the competition, Swisscom has successfully established its leadership position in all market segments. Today, its market share in mobile communications stands at just under 60% and in fixed network and broadband internet at almost 50%. Furthermore, the prices for mobile and broadband services in Switzerland are still above the average of OECD countries.
In terms of both coverage and transmission rates, Switzerland has a reliable, high-performance high-speed broadband infrastructure, in mobile as well as fixed-network communications.
Swiss consumers have a wide range of options with the three mobile network operators – Salt, Sunrise and Swisscom – and their secondary brands, a number of resellers, several fixed networks, almost nationwide coverage through cable networks and a growing number of optical fibre connections. The economy also benefits from the competition between various types of infrastructure and services as well as the complementarity between fixed and mobile networks.