Berne, 18 December 2009
Energie Wasser Bern and Swisscom have successfully concluded intensive negotiations on construction of the Berne fibre-optic network. Together the two companies will drive forward extension of the network to households, which will require investments of around CHF 140 million. The coordinated approach will halve the time needed to cover 90 per cent of the city of Berne with fibre.
The two companies agreed the key points of their collaboration for constructing the fibre network in Berne in April 2009. This was followed in June 2009 by the Board of Directors of Energie Wasser Bern giving the go-ahead to construct the network. The agreement in principle which has now been signed defines all key elements of the cooperation and paves the way to set up a comprehensive high-speed data network infrastructure in Berne within five years. Both partners will be able to coordinate planning, connection and operating processes even more effectively. Synergies will be tapped by using the existing pipe infrastructure of the two partners for constructing the fibre network. Energie Wasser Bern will connect 70 per cent of households in the city of Berne to the network, Swisscom 30 per cent.
Both partners firmly believe that this agreement is in the interest of all market players as it will bring the pioneering communication network online faster than originally planned. The agreement grants Swisscom the desired long-term usage right of up to two fibres per household over the entire network. Compensation has been defined based on Swisscom's shares of the broadband market. A total of CHF 140 million will be invested in the Berne fibre-optic network.
Since the network offers non-discriminatory access, fibre-optic network suppliers who do not want to invest in the development work themselves also stand to benefit, which will further promote competition on the telecommunications market. Customers will benefit from being able to choose between offerings from a range of service providers and, if necessary, switch to the relevant provider quickly and easily. The first fibre-optic offerings will be available to customers in Berne from the first quarter of 2010.
This agreement means that Energie Wasser Bern and Swisscom avoid constructing parallel networks and will therefore be satisfying the unanimous request made by Berne City Council in June 2009. Not only is this in the interests of the general public but also makes sense from the point of view of building an environmentally-sound and low-emission infrastructure. Additional work can be avoided through this joint approach and residents will not have to endure unnecessary noise levels.
Energie Wasser Bern and Swisscom are well on the way to achieving their target of 90 per cent coverage within five years. A good ten per cent of lines are already in place. By 2010 the partners plan to have extended this to around 40 per cent and will be focusing on connecting up properties requiring little construction work.