The Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM)
The Federal Office of Communication (OFCOM) handles questions related to telecommunications and broadcasting (radio and television). The Office prepares the decisions of the Swiss government (the Federal Council), the Swiss Federal Department for the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication (DETEC) and the Swiss Federal Communications Commission (ComCom).
What are the respective roles of ComCom and OFCOM?
OFCOM prepares the commercial transactions of the Federal Communications Commission (ComCom), makes the necessary applications and implements its decisions.
ComCom awards the basic provision licence and licences for the provision of mobile telephone and other radio services where the licence is awarded on the basis of an invitation to tender. It also rules on interconnection disputes. ComCom additionally approves the national numbering plans.
In the telecommunications sector, OFCOM grants inter alia those radio licences which do not involve any telecommunications services, e.g. company radio and amateur radio licences.
The Federal Competition Commission (Comco)
The Federal Competition Commission is the general, independent authority of competition in Switzerland.
Her tasks are combating harmful cartels, monitoring dominant companies for signs of anti-competitive conduct, enforcing merger control legislation and preventing the imposition of restraints of competition by the state.
All of the activities of the Competition Commission are subject to the provisions of the Federal Act on Administrative Procedure as long as the Federal Act on Cartels does not deviate from it.
ComCom, as the competition authority specific to the sector, consults the Competition Commission on matters related to market dominance or general aspects of competition.
The Competition Commission seeks ComCom’s and OFCOM’s opinion on issues specific to telecommunications.
The telecom dispute resolution service (ombudscom)
The telecom dispute resolution service (ombudscom) is responsible for civil disputes between customers and telecommunications service or added-value service providers if the two parties have not been able to reach a solution.
Ombudscom can be turned to regarding all legal disputes in relation to appeals concerning billing (including added-value services and roaming), unsolicited telephone contracts, barring of the telephone line, possible data protection violations, the quality of customer service, etc.
The dispute resolution service, which is based on the Telecommunications Act (TCA, Art. 12c), commenced its activities in July 2008 as part of the ombudscom foundation. The ombudsperson who heads up the dispute resolution service is subject to supervision by the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM). However, the ombudsperson is not subject to any guidelines in the mediation procedure. The ombudsperson is free from self-interest and works independently, impartially, transparently and effectively.