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Basic Infrastructure

Network infrastructure – the broadband network as a foundation of a digitalized Swiss economy
Basic infrastructure such as fixed and mobile networks and data centers are the foundation of a functioning digital economy. They are used for communication purposes, data are exchanged, products are distributed, and services are produced and sold. Without a reliable network infrastructure, digitalization and automated business processes would be impossible. In addition to the currently existing 4 million broadband connections and 11 million active SIM cards, the networking of devices, vehicles, machines, and buildings will become ever more important for the digital economy and society over the next few years. By 2020, there will be around 20 to 30 million items in Switzerland connected to the Internet of Things (IoT). Mobile connections to the Internet will play a dominant role. Besides bandwidth, additional requirements will also need to be taken into account, such as latency and energy consumption. Currently, we see strong investment and competitive dynamics both in fixed and mobile communications when it comes to expanding modern broadband networks. Switzerland scores very well in various international rankings for broadband coverage (OECD, WEF, Akamai etc.)

Concerning the current status
The theme index calculation confirms there is good broadband coverage in Switzerland, with a 93% target achievement. Around 83% of buildings, and an even higher proportion of households allow for the above-average use of digital services. But the remaining 17% of buildings also usually have ample provision, allowing users to watch video streams, surf the Internet, or shop online. The situation is even better when it comes to mobile communications coverage, with the latest 4G/LTE mobile communications technology available in 99% of all populated areas. The quality of supply is not only determined by the basic infrastructure, but also by customers, in terms of, for example, what end device they use, their location, or the time of day. Customers’ needs are increasing continuously. High-quality basic infrastructure therefore requires ongoing modernization of networks to meet growing demands. For these reasons, the «digital shopping basket» and target values also have to be modified continuously.

«The importance of mobile communications provision for digitalization will increase significantly in the coming years. By creating favourable framework conditions, politicians should help drive forward the rapid modernization and expansion of mobile communication networks.»

State of digitization in topic Basic InfrastructureFortschritt der Digitalisierung im Themenfeld Basic Infrastructure

15.03.201621.11.2017, Foto  Grasser  Christian

Topic Owner

Christian Grasser


Measurement parameters

Fixed network broadband for a four-person family

Access to the latest mobile communications technology (4G/LTE)

Networking of devices and machines (IoT)

Fixed network broadband for a four-person family

There are now many more options for using the Internet at home: videos in ultra HD quality, music streaming, work-at-home, Internet research for school, right through to online banking and gaming. All these services can only be used at the same time by several people if there is sufficient bandwidth to do so.

Calculation: A «digital shopping basket» estimates the maximum broadband needs for a four-person family. This basket includes a total of three parallel video streams (1x ultra HD and 2x HD) and allows users to simultaneously surf the Internet or use Internet-based telephony. The proportion of buildings in Switzerland with sufficient bandwidth to use this «digital shopping basket» is calculated (currently: 83%).

Around 89% of buildings in Switzerland are in a building zone. The aim is thus for at least 89% of buildings to have bandwidth comparable with that required for the «digital shopping basket», where the measurement parameter assumes a value of 94% in terms of target achievement (83%/89%). This takes into account the fact that in Switzerland, all households are entitled to an Internet connection (basic provision), but the «digital shopping basket» does not have to be available everywhere (e.g. remote buildings, second homes). 

Broadband coverage in the EU is used as the benchmark for the assessing the thresholds for determining whether the target has been met. Across the 28 EU member states, 71% of households have access to a broadband connection of 30 MB/s. The need for optimization is therefore set at 71% and an acute need for action at 57%. This approach places Switzerland at a disadvantage, however; the «digital shopping basket» has a significantly higher bandwidth than 30 MB/s and in Switzerland, connected buildings are taken into account, not individual households. This means that the situation in Switzerland is estimated as being much worse in comparison to the EU than it actually is. It was not possible, however, to calculate a reliable correction factor or to switch to a comparable data source. In assessing the need to take action, the aim is thus to maintain or build on the quantitative and qualitative advantage over EU countries.

Data source:

  • Calculation based on internal data from BAKOM Broadbandatlas (as at May 2017) 
  • Thresholds from IHS Technology, Broadband Coverage in Europe 2015: Coverage in Switzerland, May 2016 
  • Building data in accordance with ARE Monitoring Bauen ausserhalb Bauzone (Figures and charts for standard report), Tab_6), as at 2016.
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Access to the latest mobile communications technology (4G/LTE)

Smartphones and tablets give users mobile Internet access. It is important here to achieve the widest possible coverage outside buildings with the latest mobile communications technology (4G/LTE). This permits Internet usage as well as mobile music and video streaming on the go. Here, the quality of the provision not only depends on the basic infrastructure, but also on the end device, location, number of customers on the network, and weather conditions.

Calculation: The share of population coverage where 4G/LTE mobile communications provision is possible is assessed using coverage forecasts. The aim is to make it possible to use mobile Internet on the go or outdoors in 100% of populated areas with the latest mobile communications technology.

To estimate the thresholds, mobile communications provision in Switzerland is compared with that in EU member states. 4G/LTE coverage in 28 EU member states averages 86%. Below this value, there is assumed to be a need for optimization. There is an acute need for action if the rate is 14%-points lower (72%).

Data source: 

  • Internal data from mobile operators
  • Thresholds from IHS Technology, Broadband Coverage in Europe 2015: Coverage in Switzerland, May 2016
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Networking of devices and machines (IoT)

In 2020, there will be more devices, machines, sensors and vehicles connected to the Internet than there are people in Switzerland. Depending on the application, these items have very different requirements as regards wirelessly accessing data networks, from simple sensors, which only need to send a small amount of data once a day, right through to drones, which need to be controlled in real time and with no interruptions. Parameters are developed for typical application cases based on real-world use cases.

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Team of experts, Foto  Bach  Christoph

Dr. Christoph Bach

Head of Practice Mobile Broadband Western Europe

Patrick Heer

Federal Office of Communications (BAKOM),

Melissa Näf

Manager Government Affairs
UPC Schweiz GmbH,

Stefan Berg

Head of Strategy Enterprise Customers
Swisscom (Schweiz) AG

Opinions and Dialog

Current Projects

Current Publications

Ericsson Mobility Report

Ericsson publiziert zweimal jährlich einen Mobility Report. Dabei wird das Wachstum im mobilen Datenverkehr beleuchtet sowie Anwendungen im IoT Bereich aufgezeigt. Ein wichtiger Fokus liegt auf dem Potenzial von 5G und wie der neue Standard den öffentlichen Verkehr sicherer und effizienter machen kann.

Link to the StudyEricsson Mobility Report, Juni 2017
PDF DownloadEricsson Mobility Report June 2017

Digital Index Switzerland 2016 - Road to RODI: A framework to drive Return On Digital Investment

Due to the growing importance of digitalization for consumers and companies in Switzerland, Google and Accenture decided to collaborate to ensure a holistic expert view on Swiss companies’ digital readiness. Based on publicly available information only, they investigated the digital maturity and mobile readiness for 100 of Switzerland’s biggest companies. This investigation revealed that, on average, Swiss companies do not prioritize digital initiatives applying outcome-based assessments of value creation potential and customer needs. Therefore, Accenture and Google created a framework based on cross-industry best practice examples that intends to support Switzerland’s companies in driving value creation through digital initiatives.

LinkDigital Index Switzerland 2016
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