Telecommunications for all

Swisscom enables and shapes Switzerlands information society by providing infrastructure and services that allow people in the public and private sector to communicate and interact in a sustainable manner. In so doing, Swisscom remains true to its goal of enabling everyone in Switzerland to be part of the information society. Telecommunications for all is Swisscoms guiding principle.

Environment and objectives

Swisscom wants everyone in Switzerland to be able to take advantage of the opportunities provided by new media and is thus making sure that reliable network access is present virtually everywhere in Switzerland. Swisscom focuses on promoting media skills, not only in its efforts in the area of youth media protection, but also through various initiatives which aim to reduce the digital divide.
Swisscom will continue to pursue these activities in 2013, championing for a healthy information society that adds value in line with the federal governments strategy, so that Switzerland as a business location, the Swiss education system and the entire population will continue to benefit from a progressive ICT landscape.

Basic service provision

Swisscom is responsible for providing basic telecoms services in Switzerland, and has been mandated to do so until 2017. It will forego requesting a fund for basic service provision. The aim of the mandate is the provision of analogue and digital network access throughout Switzerland. This includes voice telephony, fax, data transmission and broadband Internet access. In 2012, Swisscom increased the minimum transmission speed for broadband Internet connections from 600/100 kbps to 1000/100 kbps and at the same time reduced the price ceiling for this service from CHF 69 to CHF 55 per month (excluding VAT).
Another part of basic service provision for which Swisscom has long been responsible is the maintenance and operation of the 5,800 public telephones and access to the emergency call service for the police, fire and ambulance services, as well as special services for the disabled.

Data protection

As a result of its activities, Swisscom possesses customer data which is protected by the Data Protection Act and the Telecommunications Act. The protection of privacy, compliance with data protection laws and the observance of telecommunications secrecy are key concerns for Swisscom. The Data Protection Declaration explains how Swisscom handles personal data in the context of its website and e-mail activities. It also discloses that this data may be passed on to others within the Swisscom Group. Swisscom, however, is not responsible for information and data processing on third-party linked offerings.
As a trustworthy partner, Swisscom has set itself the goal of providing all employees who have access to customer data as part of their job with thorough instruction on legal compliance within their work. In addition, Swisscom sensitises and empowers employees to recognise the issues and requirements of data protection and to ensure they are properly implemented. All Swisscom Switzerland employees also have to regularly take part in data protection training sessions.
The persons responsible for security within the company also launched a comprehensive project in 2012 with the aim of improving data protection. During the course of this project, Swisscom is reviewing all access rights and critical customer data, and redefining these rights. For this purpose, Swisscom has set up a system that determines whether attempts to access critical customer data are linked to enquiries regarding the customers in question and if they are authorised.

Protecting minors in the media and promoting media skills

Protecting minors in the media and guidelines on media content

The use of new media provides us all with new opportunities and options. Although the pros usually outweigh the cons, new media can also entail a number of risks  particularly for children and young people. Swisscom is determined not to leave parents to shoulder this responsibility alone. The company supports parents and teachers by providing a wide range of information, resources and products.
Children and young people who disclose private or even intimate information on community platforms are often unaware of the repercussions this may have. Privacy therefore plays a prominent role in the documentation and information provided on media protection for minors.
Swisscom supports the High Principles on Child Protection. Together with the European Telecommunications Network Operators Association (ETNO), Swisscom has reformulated its terms of use on youth platforms so that children and young people really understand them.
The legal obligations governing the protection of minors in the media were fully complied with in 2012. Under the terms of the Swiss Federal Penal Code, it is forbidden for providers to offer content of a pornographic nature to persons under the age of 16. Swisscom is rigorous in its interpretation of the regulations of the Ordinance on Telecommunications Services regarding the blocking of value-added services. For example, no adult content whatsoever has been offered on the Swisscom information portal since 2009.
Since 2008, the Industry Initiative of the Swiss Association of Telecommunications (asut) for Improved Youth Media Protection and the Promotion of Media Skills in Society has published a list of youth media protection measures in addition to the legal requirements, which Swisscom has pledged to comply with. These include the provision of Internet filters, the obligation to actively inform customers, willingness to engage in dialogue with committed organisations and the designation of a youth media protection officer.

With the following measures, Swisscom goes beyond the statutory requirements in terms of youth media protection:
  • Age limit for access to certain services voluntarily increased to 18
  • No adult content whatsoever in the video-on-demand offerings on Swisscom TV and on the information portal
  • Additional channel blocking via PIN on Swisscom TV
  • Guaranteed youth media protection with the new additional Start Over function
  • FSK age rating recommendation for all video-on-demand films
  • Exceptionally stringent requirements for third-party providers of value-added services

The Telecommunication Services Ordinance requires telecommunication service providers to disclose information on the existence of a barring set at least once a year. A barring set allows access to chargeable value-added services to be blocked on specific lines. Swisscom sends its customers a bill enclosure every year to inform them about this free service. The barring set is automatically activated for young subscribers under the age of 18.

Promoting media skills

In 2012, Swisscom took the following measures in order to raise awareness among parents and teachers of the potential dangers and risks posed by new media:

  • Media course as part of the Academy training programme (formerly Swisscom Help Point): the course was held on parents evenings and during further training sessions for teachers. Swisscom also expanded its course offering and is offering new courses for secondary school pupils (see below: media courses for parents, teaching staff and now also secondary school pupils). In total, Swisscom held almost 700 media skills events throughout Switzerland in 2012
  • The JAMES study investigates the media usage behaviour of young people between the ages of 12 and 19. After an initial run in 2010, Swisscom carried out the JAMES study once again in 2012 in cooperation with Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). The findings allowed science and politics to base their conclusions and measures on a reliable, scientific foundation. The recurring study will allow trends and changes in the media usage behaviour of young people to be identified as of 2014. With this study, Swisscom is bridging a gap in research that has existed for a long time, particularly as surveys into media usage among young people were not consistently carried out before 2010.

National Programme for the promotion of media skills

In summer 2010, the Swiss federal government set up a programme aimed at improving the media skills of children and young people. The Federal Social Insurance Office (FSIO) is responsible for implementing the programme, which is set to run until 2015. As principal partner of the programme, Swisscom is confident that the public and private sectors together do significantly more to promote media skills. Swisscom supports the programme by providing both financial resources and communication services.

Media courses for parents, teaching staff and secondary school pupils

Swisscom has been expanding its course offering since autumn 2011 in order to promote media skills. In addition to the information events for parents and teaching staff, it has since also offered a modular course for secondary school pupils (year 7 to year 9). Teachers can choose from a range of different modules dealing with general media usage behaviour, legal issues on the Internet, social networks, safe surfing and the new issue of cyber-bullying. Swisscom appoints a dedicated course instructor for the participating classes. There was great demand for this course in 2012 and the goals for the year have been achieved and exceeded. The experience and feedback gained from the events were extremely positive. An evaluation of the effectiveness of the courses will be carried out in 2013.

Swisscom Academy (formerly Swisscom Help Point)

The Swisscom Academy has been teaching customers how to use mobile devices and the Internet since 2005. Weekly courses are offered at the training centres in Berne, Basel, Lausanne, Lucerne, Geneva and Zurich. Four training buses also visit around 70 towns and villages across Switzerland every year. In 2012, 12,831 people attended courses on how to use modern communications media. Since their launch, Swisscoms Help Points have served close to 220,000 people in Switzerland. The courses are aimed at the general population in Switzerland and are open to customers and non-customers alike. Through this campaign, Swisscom is playing an important role in continually reducing the digital generation gap.

Internet for Schools initiative

In 2012, Swisscom celebrated the ten-year anniversary of the Internet for Schools initiative. Under the initiative, almost every Swiss school benefitted from a free basic Internet offering or from a more advanced offering at heavily reduced prices. Swisscom continued the Internet for Schools initiative after the public-private partnership with the federal government officially expired in 2007, and the company works hard to continually tailor the infrastructure it offers to the day-to-day needs of schools. Swisscom extended its Internet for Schools initiative to kindergartens in 2009 in response to the needs of cantonal education departments. This means that the number of connections provided is set to increase almost three-fold over the coming years. At the end of 2012, well over 1,700 kindergartens were already online.
Schools that require high-performance bandwidths (large educational centres or schools which use the Internet particularly intensively) can now take advantage of connections providing free Internet access with an increased bandwidth of up to 50 Mbps. If the school also wishes to take advantage of Swisscoms professional security services, the company makes a contribution towards the associated expenses.
Schools are placing increasingly greater demands on their ICT solutions. Swisscom has identified their needs and has worked together with other partners from educational institutions since 2012 in an attempt to find useful and affordable ICT solutions.

Swisscom has added various educational institutions to its network over the past few years, enabling it to recognise the ICT integration needs of schools at an early point in time. Swisscom cultivates this network by means of meetings and events, in particular with the following institutions:

  • Education server Educa and the Swiss education server educanet
  • Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK)
  • SFIB conference
  • Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM)
  • Swiss Foundation for Audiovisual Teaching Media (SSAB)
  • Swiss Association of Teachers (LCH)
  • Intercantonal Conference of Public Education (CIIP)
  • Worlddidac Association
  • Various teacher training colleges and universities

Offerings for people with disabilities

Swisscoms most important goal is to provide everyone in Switzerland with barrier-free access to the latest communication tools. In this context, Swisscom plays a key role in ensuring that disadvantaged people can also participate in Switzerlands information society.

Swisscoms offerings for disabled people, the visually impaired and hard of hearing

Swisscom Shops comply with stringent requirements concerning wheelchair access. Swisscom Shop employees also have to be able to recognise what requirements a specific disability entails. In collaboration with the TerzStiftung, Swisscom has worked on ways of optimising its shops for people who are visually impaired and hard of hearing. The corresponding measures were implemented in 2012.
Swisscom endeavours to provide a portfolio of terminal devices that includes a choice of suitable equipment for customers with impaired hearing or vision. Swisscom renews and updates its service and device portfolio on an ongoing basis. One of the aims of doing so is to ensure its offerings satisfy the needs of those with special needs or requirements. Two examples of devices in this range are the Emporia mobile phone, a smartphone with on-screen voice support for blind or partially sighted people, and the multi-modal customer service contact option.
All those who are unable to use the current subscriber directory due to physical disabilities can be connected via the short number 1145 at no extra cost. Swisscom provides this service free of charge as part of the basic service provision.
Individuals who are hard of hearing can take advantage of a transcription service. This service makes telephone calls possible between the hard of hearing and those who can hear normally and is offered free of charge in association with the organisation procom. It is also part of the basic service provision.
Swisscom continues to be committed to ensuring its website offers barrier-free access to all. As part of the technical redesign, Swisscom has already implemented key guidelines for barrier-free website content (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines WCAG). In the following phases of the website redesign, Swisscom will take into consideration other guidelines and is aiming to receive AA Access for all certification by the end of 2013.

Offerings for people with limited financial resources

Swisscom offers special products and services to help people with limited financial resources. Young people under the age of 26 can take advantage of reduced tariff plans. Under these tariff plans, subscribers up to the age of 18 are assigned a credit limit. Older people continue to make less use of new communication technologies than younger people. Special subscriptions for older people offer price models with this in mind, featuring particularly low basic fees and services charged only on a pay-as-you-use basis.