Swisscom fibre-optic expansion under investigation

Swisscom’s expansion of its fibre-optic network is being investigated for its potential effect on competition in Switzerland.

Swisscom, one of Switzerland’s largest telecommunications providers, entered a partnership one and a half years ago with the canton of Fribourg and Group E, an electricity provider last year to roll out a new high-speed fibre-optic network, made up of four fibres, throughout the Fribourg state.

The plan involved Swisscom footing 60 percent of the bill, while the partners fork up the other 40 percent, with all parties jointly involved in the planning, construction, maintenance and operation of the network.

The deal entered its final stages last year, with the partners submitting an application in Autumn 2010 for approval by the Competition Commission, which must make sure any such ventures do not breach antitrust regulations.

The Commission has begun an investigation of the deal, saying that it wants to look into the proposals in more detail. It said it expects to reach a decision by May 2011.

Swisscom believes the deal will be approved, as it has complied with all the necessary rules, including offering non-discriminatory access to the network to competitors. Work is expected to begin on the network in the middle of this year once approval is given.