Improving the resilience of mobile networks during power outages

Bern, 01.11.2023 - Mobile operators must take steps to ensure that people and businesses can continue to use the mobile network in the event of power supply disruptions. At its meeting on 1 November 2023, the Federal Council initiated the consultation process on a revision of the Ordinance on Telecommunications Services.

Even during power outages or shortages, the mobile network must remain operational to enable emergency calls, public telephone service and internet access. The Federal Council intends to amend the Ordinance on Telecommunications Services (OTS) accordingly.

Interested parties can submit comments as part of the consultation process. The deadline for this is 16 February 2024.

The Federal Council is proposing that the new requirements set out in the OTS should not apply to internet video services (with the exception of videos in the public interest), as this could overload the network.

In order to meet these requirements, the three Swiss mobile operators must install emergency power supplies in central locations as well as at base stations. The measures they take must be sufficient to ensure mobile communications during power outages of up to 72 hours or rolling blackouts over 14 consecutive days. Each operator will also have to ensure that 99% of its customers in every commune can use its mobile network during power grid shutdowns.

Increasing resilience in stages

Under the transitional provisions, mobile operators have five years to take the necessary measures to ensure emergency calls and a further three years for access to public telephone and internet services. Six months after the revision of the OTS comes into force, they will be required to submit an implementation plan and then provide annual progress reports. Operators may have to fund an audit if there are reasonable doubts as to whether they are complying with the new provisions.

Costs to be borne by operators

Operators are free to choose the means they use to achieve the goals set out in the OTS. They are also solely responsible for funding the increased resilience of their mobile networks. A regulatory impact analysis estimates the three mobile telephony licensees' annual costs at around CHF 150 million.

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