Adaptation of the legal basis for internet domain names - opening of the consultation

Biel/Bienne, 13.02.2014 - In future, the management of .ch and .swiss internet domain names will be regulated in an independent ordinance. OFCOM is calling upon interested parties to comment on the new draft Ordinance on Internet Domains (OID). The consultation also concerns amendments to the Ordinances on Telecommunication Services (OTS), on the Indication of Prices (OIP) and on Addressing Resources in the Telecommunications Sector (OARTS). For example, it is proposed to double the minimum speed of the broadband internet connection included in the universal service, to improve the indication of prices for offerings on websites and to guarantee that calls to 0800 numbers are always free of charge, regardless of the device or of the caller's contract. The period for submission of comments runs until 17 April 2014.

The new draft Ordinance on Internet Domains envisages separating the Registry function (administration of the database of .ch internet sites) from that of the Registrar (marketing of .ch domain names). OFCOM has tasked the SWITCH foundation with managing the domain names in the top level country domain .ch until 31 March 2015. It can therefore perform the two tasks until that date. However, the regulations must now be reviewed in order to adapt to the model which has emerged at the global level. The new delegated mandate which will be put out to tender will entrust to the Registry the organisation, administration and central management of the ".ch" domain. As for the Registrars, they will market the domain names, which will continue to be assigned to interested persons, according to the principle of "first come, first served".

The draft OID envisages that the Registry/Registrar model will also be the basis for the management of the new generic top level domain .swiss, for which the Confederation has applied. The ".swiss" domain names must serve and promote the interests of the Swiss community. Thus only bodies which are based in Switzerland or which have a particular link with the country may apply for a .swiss domain name directly from OFCOM, which will itself assume the Registry function, with the assistance of a consultative committee.

In the same way as the Confederation applied for the .swiss extension, other Swiss public bodies may apply to ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers), the body responsible for the internet addressing and naming system at the global level, for delegation of a generic top level extension. The draft OID also envisages provisions on the management of these possible new extensions.

Universal service and consumer protection

The changes to the other ordinances include in particular doubling the internet access speed which Swisscom must offer its customers as part of the universal service. Since 1 March 2012, the download speed (from the network to the user) has been set at 1000 kbit/s and the upload speed at 100 kbit/s. The speed is expected to increase in the future to 2000/200 kbit/s. The price ceiling of CHF 55 per month (excluding VAT) for a connection including such a link to the internet remains unchanged.

The draft also intends to improve consumer protection in relation to value-added services by strengthening the provisions relating to the indication of prices. Thus the price of the services offered on the internet will have to be indicated clearly in the immediate vicinity of the location where the consumer must click in order to accept the offer. In addition, telecommunications service providers will no longer be able to charge extras in relation to the indicated prices, e.g. for the establishment or the duration of a call to a premium-rate service number. Calls to 0800 numbers will therefore be genuinely free, regardless of whether the call is made from a landline or a mobile.

Exemption from the obligation to notify telecommunications services

Providers whose turnover derived from telecommunications services offerings in Switzerland is less than CHF 500,000 will no longer be obliged to register with OFCOM as telecommunications service providers, on condition, however, that they use neither addressing resources nor radiocommunication licences or that they do not make use of the access services of the provider which occupies a dominant position in the market. This exemption to the notification obligation would affect about 100 providers out of the approx. 450 which are currently registered. In terms of turnover, this would only represent 0.1% of the Swiss telecommunications market.

Address for enquiries

Press service OFCOM, 032 327 55 50


Federal Office of Communications