A worker assembles Swisscom fiber optic cables. The small provider Init7 from Winterthur is resisting the market power of the “blue giant” and wants to fight for direct access to the ultra-fast data highways of the future – so far with success.archive Image: KEYSTONE
13.01.2022, 16:5413.01.2022, 17:20
The small Internet provider Init7 is adamant in the fiber optic dispute with the market giant Swisscom: Init7 boss Fredy Künzler vehemently rejects a compromise offer from Swisscom for access to the information superhighway. In a current interview (see sources), the entrepreneur and SP politician from Winterthur explains what drives him.
What is it about?
The dispute is about whether Swisscom is allowed to build the fiber optic network according to the single-fiber model with only one feed line from the telephone exchange to the road shaft, or whether it has to lay four fibers per household as before.
An expansion according to the single-fiber model (“point-to-multipoint”) would be cheaper and faster. According to Swisscom, the four-fiber model (“point-to-point”) would significantly delay the development of rural areas, since in 80 percent of the communities the roads would have to be torn up in order to expand the cable ducts, argued the largest telecommunications company in Switzerland.
Init7 had sued the Federal Competition Commission (Weko) against the single-fiber model because Swisscom made the competition impossible.
As a result, the Como took precautionary measures against Swisscom and thus stopped further expansion with the single-fiber model. Several 10,000 connections that have already been laid cannot now be activated.
The Federal Administrative Court rejected an appeal by Swisscom against the Weko at the beginning of October. The judges assume that an expansion of the fiber optic network with the single fiber model represents abusive behavior by a dominant company. Swisscom was also flashed before the federal court.
«Switzerland has the need and the right to a sustainable telecommunications infrastructure that can be used for the next 30 to 40 years. Without an open point-to-point fiber optic network, innovation comes to a standstill. “
Fredy Künzler, Init7
What kind of compromise does Swisscom offer?
In order to settle the dispute, Swisscom submitted a proposed solution to Weko at the end of December with virtual access to Layer 1 of the fiber optic network (V-ALO).
In the case of a Layer 1 product, Swisscom’s competitors place their own technical systems in Swisscom’s telephone exchanges. This enables them to launch their own offers that stand out from the products of the market leader.
However, this would only be possible virtually with the solution proposed by Swisscom, but not physically as in the four-fiber model. Swisscom technical director Christoph Aeschlimann admitted at the time that virtual access cannot be equated with physical access.
The Init7 boss goes into attack mode
Init7 boss Künzler doesn’t think much of the Swisscom solution: The virtual access V-ALO is much worse than a Layer 1 product. “It is limited to 10 gigabit lines,” he says in an interview with the “Inside-IT” portal.
“The innovation competition has therefore been eliminated, and here too Swisscom can control which products the other providers can offer. The access is also not cost-oriented, so the price would remain pseudo-competition. That’s why we’re resisting it. “
Fredy Künzler, CEO and founder of the provider Init7.Image: SP Winterthur
“V-ALO is another attempt by Swisscom to pour in Weko Valium,” says Künzler. You can tell from the fact that V-ALO, viewed closely, is a Layer 2 product and not a Layer 1 product. “The name ‘ALO’, as the previous Layer 1 product is called, is deliberately misleading. One wants to deceive the Weko. “
With regard to the competition, who have spoken out in favor of the Swisscom strategy, the Init7 boss says:
“We rely on layer 1 from suppliers and invest in our own layer 2, not like others who only resell pre-assembled Swisscom products. We are forcing the competition to follow suit and improve. “
Init7 pays a decent rent for each fiber.
Künzler rejects the accusation that over 100,000 households would have to wait for their fiber optic connection:
«We did not deliberately build according to the wrong model and caused millions in damage. The Swisscom management is solely responsible for this. “
That this is the case can be read in the judgment of the Federal Administrative Court, says Künzler. That was a corporate decision by Swisscom.
“But the federal government, as the majority owner and the most important stakeholder, is just as affected by this as the population, and one is actually surprised that management that has deliberately and knowingly dumped millions has not long since been dismissed.”
Why not just use 5G mobile communications instead of fiber optics?
The Init7 boss:
«Cellular networks are quickly hopelessly overloaded, they do not scale sufficiently. Optical fibers offer a functioning, secure and solid telecommunications infrastructure for decades to come. “
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