Switzerland’s telecom sector is very sophisticated, enjoying one of the largest penetration rates in the OECD. The competitive Swiss mobile market is served by three network operators and a small number of mobile virtual network operators.
The broadband market is dominated by two major companies, Swisscom and UPC, but there are other smaller players on this market, especially those who provide services to local communities. UPC has expanded over the last years in Switzerland by acquiring some of its partner networks.
Although Switzerland is not part of the EU, due to the fact that the country has strong economic ties with states from the EU has led to the fact that deregulations of the Swiss telecom market follow EU’s liberalization framework. This includes recent regulations regarding international voice roaming. Some of the biggest telecom companies in Switzerland are the following:
Swisscom was initially the only telecom service provider in Switzerland. After the liberalization of the phone market in 1998, other smaller providers appeared on the market. However, Swisscom has remained one of the most important telecom companies in Switzerland.
Considering that there are approximately 240 cable TV operators in Switzerland, that also started to offer telephone and internet services, it was not easy to maintain the position as one of the leading companies in the industry.
Swisscom’s roots were established as early as 1852, when the first telegraph service between St. Gallen and Zurich was launched. By 1896, the telephone has been introduced in all Swiss cantons.
In 1988, the first digital telecommunications network was introduced in Switzerland by Telecom PTT, the company that would become Swisscom in 1997.
This company is the largest broadband cable operator in Switzerland. It was founded in 1994, after multiple merges between smaller companies under the name of Cablecom. Cablecom was relaunched as UPC Cablecom in 2011, and starting with 2016, the company is called UPC.
The company has more than 1,500 employees and had revenue of 1, 34 billion CHF in 2015.
Sunrise is the largest private telecommunications provider in Switzerland. The company offers a wide range of telecommunications: landline network, mobile network, digital TV and internet. The company was founded in 1996, and has more than 1,600 employees from 60 countries.
Sunrise Communications Group AG was listed on the SIX Swiss Exchange in 2015.
Salt Mobile SA is one of the three national mobile phone providers in Switzerland. The company was founded in 1998 and it was formerly known as Orange Communications SA. It changed its name to Salt in 2015, after the takeover by the company Xavier Niel. It has a market share of 18, 2%, behind Swisscom and Sunrise.
The company reported a turnover of 1,31 million CHF in 2014.
The Swiss telecommunications market
The Swiss telecommunications market remains dominated by the biggest telecom company in Switzerland, Swisscom. In 2015, Swisscom had a market share of 58.95 on the mobile telephony market. This is important since in the same year, in Switzerland there were twice as many subscribers for mobile networks as there were subscribers for landlines.
As said above, Switzerland has one of the largest internet penetration rates in Europe, with 3 out of 4 Swiss households having an internet connection. The number of regular internet users has grown up to almost 7 million in 2015. Most of the internet customers (84%) use the internet at home, more than half at work and 43% use the internet while commuting.
There are approximately 300 national and local cable TV network which all have a penetration rate of 74% in Swiss households.
Private providers dominate the Swiss telecommunications market, even though the state is a major investor, as it is the majority shareholder in Swisscom.
Switzerland has one of the densest ADLS broadband networks in the world. The capacity of the telecommunications network is set to increase in the near future, due to the existing copper cables being replaced with fibre-optic cable in homes and businesses across Switzerland.
Switzerland also has one of the most highly developed internet infrastructures in the world. Its higher education institutions promote innovation in this sector and contribute to its success.
A number of internet giants have followed the lead of Google in Zurich and established their headquarters in Switzerland. Geneva is home of many international organizations, such as the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which are involved in regulating and managing the internet. Foreign players on the internet market also hold Switzerland in high esteem because of its political stability and the secure and cost-effective supply of electricity needed to run servers in data centers. Switzerland currently hosts 58 server housings, as well as many data centers belonging to major companies.
In conclusion, the telecom industry is certainly a business sector that continues to develop and it’s one of the reasons why Switzerland is one of the most suitable business locations to incorporate a Swiss company or to establish the company’s headquarters in the country.