Today only a third of Swiss households have access to the fiber optic network – and thus access to really fast internet. A new alliance between Sunrise and Salt wants to change that.
The two counterparties, numbers 2 and 4 in the Swiss telecommunications market, team up. With the new company called Swiss Open Fiber, they want to heat up the industry leader Swisscom – and get the prices from heaven.
The Sunrise Salt Connection plan: 1.5 million additional households are to be connected to the fiber optic network in the next five to seven years – a doubling compared to today. For this, the two telecommunications companies dig deep into their pockets.
CHF 3 billion will go towards expansion
Pascal Grieder (42), CEO of Salt, confirms when introducing the new cooperation: “We are investing three billion Swiss francs in the expansion so that Switzerland can keep up with the European leaders in fiber optics.”
There’s no stranger in the boat: Marc Furrer (68). The former President of the Federal Communications Commission (Comcom) is the new Chairman of the Board of Directors of Swiss Open Fiber. Furrer: “You need competition from Swisscom, otherwise there is a de facto monopoly on the fiber optic network.”
Spicy: As Comcom President, Furrer has always advocated a merger of the Sunrise and Salt mobile networks. Now that Furrer is president of the new joint fiber company.
Furrer promises access for everyone
So far, Swisscom has been the driver of the infrastructure expansion – together with a number of municipal utilities and electricity companies. Now there is a third big player. And he is very open. “Providers other than Sunrise and Salt also have fiber access to households via Swiss Open Fiber – and at fair prices,” promises expert Marc Furrer.
There is already a collaboration with Swiss Fiber Net, the association of energy suppliers.
Even the competition is happy
The direct competition from Sunrise and Salt in the Internet business is also pleased. Internet provider Init7, for example, says: “Open market instead of Swisscom-style protection.” The provider indicates that, for financial reasons, it is not possible to be part of the Swiss Open Fiber start-up – but in the future he would also like to offer the platform.
Even Swisscom itself is “open” to discussions with the Sunrise Salt company. “We have recently become aware of the plans and are examining opportunities for cooperation, as in the past,” says a spokesman.
In fact, not only the main tenants Salt and Sunrise should offer Internet products via the Swiss Open Fiber fiber infrastructure, but the network should also be open to all other providers.
Lower prices not for all households
“Consumers should benefit from cheaper prices,” promises the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Swiss Open Fiber. The Telekom experts asked by BLICK are skeptical. «The expansion of the infrastructure costs a lot of money. The prices will not drop just because of the cooperation, »says Ralf Beyeler from Moneyland.
And Jean-Claude Frick from Comparis adds: “The fiber optic offers that are already available are very attractive and some are real price breakers.” And there is also the big advantage for consumers. “Where there is currently no fiber optic offer, the prices for fast internet are higher,” says Frick. In other words, anyone who gets new fiber optics can look forward to lower subscription prices.
Especially in the agglomerations, many households are now likely to get an optical fiber connection faster because the new provider wants to push ahead with expansion there. “If Swisscom and cable network operators like UPC get competition on the last mile, prices could drop there,” says Frick. Ralf Beyeler also emphasizes: “If customers now have a real selection from the offers of many providers, this is a great advantage.”
Sunrise CEO has just sued Swisscom
But what will probably not happen: that two fiber optic providers connect the houses in parallel at one location. The new provider appears to be concentrating, at least for the time being, on regions that are still fiber-free.
The new company was founded by the two telecommunications companies and initially also financed. But a big financial partner is supposed to join. “The goal is that Sunrise and Salt only have a minority stake,” says Sunrise CEO André Krause (50).
The latter made headlines last week. Only a few months as head of Sunrise, he sued Swisscom for market abuse in an old case for CHF 350 million (BLICK reported).