The Council of States once again bowed to an initiative regarding roaming fees. Without consequences. The motion by center parliamentarian Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter was passed. She had demanded a government-imposed cap on roaming fees.
This is far from the first time that roaming charges have been debated in Parliament. But the urgency of this issue has lost momentum.
Switzerland is on the outside
Rightly so? Actually not, because using smartphones and tablets abroad can still result in considerable costs, as is often only visible on the bill after returning from a stay abroad. Although there have also been additional requirements and, in particular, information requirements for providers in Switzerland since 2021 in order to better protect customers from the cost trap of roaming.
Swiss users are therefore looking with envy towards the EU, where roaming fees were abolished in 2017 (roam like at home). This regulation even extends to EEA-only members such as the Principality of Liechtenstein. Outside – Switzerland.
Roaming costs integrated into subscriptions
There is another reason why the discussion about roaming tariffs lost momentum in public. Mobile phone providers began to “hide” roaming costs in their subscriptions. Swisscom started in 2019, after which there was some exuberant media coverage that roaming fees would be abolished.
In fact, the costs were simply integrated into the subscription and the price was increased. Nevertheless, this step brought movement to the market: the competition followed suit and today all three major mobile phone providers, including Salt and Sunrise, offer subscriptions with roaming included. This in turn has made it even more difficult to compare offers.
This leads to the sobering conclusion: As long as Switzerland’s relationship with the EU remains as difficult as it is today, a fundamental change in roaming is probably out of the question. Salt, Sunrise and Swisscom have to transfer money to European telecom providers for their customers’ network use abroad – and they pass these costs on to their customers. Somehow.
Co-head of the TV business department
Open the people box. Close the people box
Matthias Pfander has been working in business journalism for 20 years, since mid-2017 as a reporter and planner for the business editorial team at SRF TV. He previously worked for the Tages-Anzeiger and the Blick Group, among others.