Utilities, television, internet, phone in Switzerland

Getting connected: Utilities, phone, internet, and television in Switzerland

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If you're living in Switzerland, here's a guide to setting up electricity, telephone, television and internet in your Swiss house.

Once you've found your new Swiss home, you'll need to organise utility and communication services for your Swiss house, although some rental properties will have certain utilities included in the monthly rent. To connect television and radio, you'll also have to pay an annual Swiss licence fee.

Utilities

The Swiss energy market is privatised, with consumers offered a wide choice of service providers. Many companies cover all three services: electricity, gas and water.

When renting a house, utilities are usually excluded from the monthly rent. Apartments, however, commonly include heating and hot water in the rent.

Companies send bills every two to four months. Tenants pay an estimated charge which is re-calculated every six to 12 months based on metre readings.

The Swiss Federal Office of Energy is responsible for regulating the energy market and increasing energy efficiency in the home. As environmental awareness increases, incentives for decreasing energy use are emerging.    

Electricity in Switzerland is between 220–240 volts, and the electrical plug has three round prongs. You may need to replace your electrical appliances from home or purchase adapters.

Gas is uncommon in Switzerland for household use due to its high cost. If your house requires gas you can contact one of the listed suppliers.

Main suppliers:


Telephone and internet

Swisscom is the national telephone supplier, providing the following services:

  • Landlines: Swisscom Fixnet
  • ISDN internet: Multiline ISDN
  • DSL Internet: Bluewin
  • Mobile phones: Swisscom Mobile (other mobile phone providers include Orange and Sunrise)

 

To set up internet or telephone service you will need a copy of a residence permit (or other photo ID) and a one-time connection payment. Service can usually be installed within a few days.
    
Mobile phones can be paid with a 12- or 24-month subscription or by prepaid card. Some providers have facilities for recharging the card at train ticket dispensers, the post office or ATMs.

Phone/internet providers:

Television and radio

Swiss residents pay a tax for TV and radio access. The annual cost of CHF 20 allows unlimited access to television and radio programmes. Failure to pay can result in fines of up to CHF 5,000. For more information visit www.billag.com.

Once you have the licence there is a wide range of regional and national radio stations available, including the English-language World Radio Switzerland.

Each linguistic region of Switzerland has their own state-owned and private range of television channels which are obtained from a standard receiver. Most television programmes are shown in the regional language, although some channels have dual-language options.

For a wider range of programs you can subscribe to a monthly cable service. Many city apartments already have a cable TV connection, enabling you to receive national and international channels.

Satellite dishes are also an option if you require a specific selection of channels. However, some landlords may require approval before dish installation.

Television service providers:


Chris Morillon / Expatica


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