Sibilant Swiss service providers Sunrise and Salt are forming a strategic partnership for the rollout of fibre across the country.
It will take the form of a joint venture called Swiss Open Fiber, in which they will have an equal shareholding and may get equity partners involved too. The aim is to drop CHF 3 billion on fibering-up 1.5 million Swiss homes (chalets?) over the next seven years. While Sunrise and Iliad-owned Salt will be the ‘anchor tenants’ other retail operators can lease the lines too, if they fancy it.
“We are excited to embark on this joint venture which will accelerate ultrafast broadband connectivity and significantly improve fiber penetration in Switzerland relative to other European countries,” said André Krause, CEO of Sunrise. “This platform is open and transparent to the market and we are extremely happy to have secured Marc Furrer, the most distinguished expert in the domestic market, to chair Swiss Open Fiber.”
“In 2008 we initiated the round-table, with which we achieved FTTH-deployment to around one third of the Swiss population,” said Furrer. “Now we want that the rest of Switzerland can benefit from high-quality FTTH-products, which are essential for home-office, home-schooling and home entertainment. The planned Joint Venture will bring this high-speed connectivity to most of the remaining market while ensuring infrastructure competition.”
“This project is unique of its kind, leveraging the capabilities and reach of two strong Swiss operators to create a nationwide infrastructure,” said Pascal Grieder, CEO of Salt. “Growing importance of flexible and virtual working and learning models will continue to drive the need for high-performance broadband services across Swiss households, and our initiative will facilitate such services at attractive prices. We have an ambitious roll-out plan and encourage municipalities and utilities looking into FTTH deployment to reach out to us. We are open for business.”
This move gives the two companies a better chance of competing with Swisscom, which is the dominant ISP in the country. For that reason there should be no resistance from Swiss competition authorities. On top of that is also creates more competition in the leased market and gives private equity a chance to get involves, so this looks like good news for everyone except Swisscom.