Whether you’re up in the mountains or down by the lake you’ll need to have access to basic utilities such as Swiss water, Swiss electricity, and in this day and age, Swiss internet. Here’s how to ensure you’re not disconnected.
Whether you are renting or buying property in Switzerland, one of the first things you will probably want to sort out is Swiss internet, phone and TV along with Swiss utilities. If you are renting your accommodation, it is possible that these things are already connected and may be included in your monthly bills. Your landlord and lease agreement should inform you if you will need to pay extra or sort anything out yourself.
If you have bought a place in Switzerland, or your rented place doesn’t come with communications costs included, you might be able to get existing services transferred to your name if they are connected. If not, you will need to arrange connection yourself through Swiss telecommunications providers.
This guide to telecommunications in Switzerland will look at:
- Electricity in Switzerland
- Swiss water
- Connecting a telephone in Switzerland
- Mobile phones in Switzerland
- Connecting internet in Switzerland
- Connecting television in Switzerland
- Main internet, phone and TV suppliers in Switzerland
- Comparing providers
Telecommunications in Switzerland
The Swiss telecommunications market is privatised and there is a range of telecommunications providers in Switzerland to choose from. There are state-owned and private television channels that vary between the different linguistic regions. Swiss residents have to pay a small annual fee for TV and radio access to Billag. Switzerland is one of the first countries to introduce broadband internet access as a universal service.
Switzerland has a good phone communications network and has one of the highest number of phone lines per capita in the world. There are a number of providers, with Swisscom – the former sole national provider – being the largest provider, offering package deals including phone, internet and television as well as special offers and services to international residents relocating to Switzerland.
If you need to connect a telephone in Switzerland, you will need to make a one-off payment. An authorised contractor will visit to carry out the installation work. This may take a few days or a few weeks, so it is advisable to make contact as soon as possible if the line is not connected. If the phone line is already connected, you will need to contact the phone provider and provide them with your details along with a copy of valid ID (e.g. residence permit).
Phone costs in Switzerland are from around CHF 130 a month for package deals including internet, TV, landline and mobile.
There are several Swiss mobile phone companies offering different plans, including package plans incorporating internet and TV. Mobile phone contracts in Switzerland are typically for 12 or 24 months. Most contracts will offer free calls and texts as well as a new phone upfront (paid for over the contract period) when you sign up. See our guide to comparing Swiss mobile phone operators for more information on mobile phone charges in Switzerland.
You will need proof of address and Swiss residence to take out a plan with a Swiss mobile phone provider. Non-residents can purchase a Swiss pay-as-you-go SIM card for around CHF 20. For a mobile phone contract, you will need to provide the Swiss mobile phone operator with:
- valid ID (e.g. residence permit or work permit)
- proof of address
- bank account details
- Swiss social security number
Internet connectivity and internet access in Switzerland is very good and the country has the second highest proportion of fixed broadband connections in the world. There are free wifi hotspots in every area and all types of connection are available, including dial-up, cable and high-speed DSL.
Internet costs in Switzerland vary depending on what kind of plan you opt for. As already mentioned, most internet providers in Switzerland will offer internet services in a package deal also including mobile phone and TV. The cheapest internet deals in Switzerland are around CHF 50-60 a month. Fastest internet speeds in Switzerland are 1Gb but will be a little more pricey. You can get a good package deal for around CHF 130 a month.
To get connected to Swiss internet, you will need to contact your chosen provider and sort out which package you want. You will need to provide proof of residence (e.g. residence permit). A connection may take several days, so it’s advisable to make the call around two to three weeks before you want to be online. You will need a digital modem which will be provided by the supplier.
Many public places offer free wifi internet access in Switzerland, including cafes, restaurants and hotels. You can see a map of available free wifi spots in Switzerland here.
All residents in Switzerland that own a device that can receive TV or radio must pay the annual license fee to Billag. This is payable if you are staying in Switzerland for longer than three months and you are required to register within 14 days of arrival. Current annual costs are CHF 286.10 for TV and CHF 451.10 for TV/radio. This can be paid in quarterly or monthly instalments. There are hefty fines if you are caught without a license. More information on Billag is available here.
TV in Switzerland is provided either through cable or digitally through an internet/phone package. You can also install a satellite but will need to get permission from the landlord if renting and will have to cover the costs yourself. Basic cable TV is often included in rental apartments and consists of around 30 channels. Digital packages cost more but offer a wider selection of channels.
Swiss TV varies between the different regions which all offer channels in their own language. The main TV channels in the German-speaking region are SRF 1, SRF zwei and SRF info; in the French-speaking region, they are RTS Un, RTS Deux and RTS Info; in the Italian-speaking region, they are RSI La 1, RSI La 2 and TeleTicino. There is no exclusive broadcasting service in the Romansch-speaking region.
Different digital packages are available through different providers and many will offer popular foreign channels such as BBC or Sky.
- Swisscom (www.swisscom.ch) – offers packages of mobile, TV, internet and landline.
- Sunrise (www.sunrise.ch) – offers packages of mobile, TV, internet and landline.
- UPC (www.upc.ch) – formerly Cablecom. The largest cable provider in Switzerland offering packages of internet, TV and landline.
- Salt (www.salt.ch) – formerly Orange. Offers packages of mobile and internet.
- DFI (www.dfi.ch) – main internet supplier in Geneva, offering packages of internet and landline.
- Green (www.green.ch) – offers packages of internet, TV and landline.
- M-Budget (https://shop.m-budget.migros.ch/de) – offers package deals on internet, TV and landline.
To compare providers of telecommunications packages in Switzerland or providers of individual Swiss internet or mobile phone services, you can use a comparison website such as Comparis or Tempobox. You can also have a look at our guide to comparing mobile phone providers.
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