Court rules against Swisscom in FTTH expansion case


The Federal Supreme Court has rejected Swisscom’s appeal, leaving the operators fibre expansion

At the end of 2020, the Swiss Competition Commission (COMCO) announced the launch of an investigation into Swisscom’s fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) expansion using point-to-multipoint (P2MP), suggesting that this topology was a risk to market competition.

P2MP topology involves building on the existing network, with a single fibre line running from the exchange to the local cable duct before branching off to serve multiple customers.

This is opposed to point-to-point (P2P) topology, where each customer is connected to the exchange directly with their own fibre line.

Swisscom argues that this P2MP topology is very efficient and less complex, allowing them to rollout networks more economically, even in remote regions. They note that P2MP topology has “gained international acceptance in recent years” and is “only criticised in Switzerland, which we cannot understand”.

COMCO, on the other hand, holds that Swisscom’s rollout strategy centring on P2MP will make it difficult for smaller providers without their own network to compete effectively.

As a result, COMCO prohibited Swisscom from marketing its P2MP connections until the investigation is complete. This has effectively frozen the roughly 500,000 P2MP access lines the operator currently has installed – a figure that has been increasing by roughly 70,000 each quarter.

Swisscom challenged this decision in court, having their first appeal rejected by the Federal Administrative Court last year.

Since then, the company has escalated its complaints to Switzerland’s highest court, but this week they too have rejected the appeal.

“The Federal Supreme Court rejects Swisscom’s appeal in connection with the precautionary measure imposed by the Competition Commission (WEKO) for the expansion of the fibre-optic network. The decision of the Federal Administrative Court, in which it confirmed the provisional WEKO ban, is not arbitrary,” said the court in a statement.

In a statement, Swisscom says they accept the ruling, noting that they had already begun reassessing their fibre network expansion strategy to reduce their reliance on P2MP topology.

Following this strategi shift, Swisscom has subsequently lowered its targets for FTTH coverage to 50–55% of homes by 2025 and 70–80% by 2030.

Rollout capex will remain unchanged.

The final ruling by COMCO on the legality of Swisscom’s use of P2MP topology is expected to be announced early next year.

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