Internet users must pay radio fees: Swiss court

A Federal Court in Lausanne ruled on Tuesday that people with computers will be liable to pay radio licence fees.

Internet users must pay radio fees: Swiss court
Philippe Ramakers

The Swiss fee collection agency, Billag, wanted to collect radio fees from a person who had been listening to the radio through a computer. The individual challenged the charge but was dismissed by the court of first instance, newspaper Neue Zurcher Zeitung reported.

Whether the person in question did in fact use a computer to listen to radio shows was found immaterial by the court, which considered the most important factor to be the computer’s capability.

It was the fact that the computer user had access to the internet over high-speed broadband which created the obligation to pay the fees, the court said.

Computers were considered to be multi-functional devices that are capable of obtaining a variety of services without necessarily having any direct service contracts. In particular, the court found that computers are capable of playing radio content just as well as a normal radio device.

The complainant argued that a differentiation should be made in the case of radio, similar to that made between those who watch television on a TV set and those who watch it on a computer screen.

But the court argued that computer-TV watchers had special licences because they had also entered into special arrangements with the online TV-providers, an arrangement which was not possible with radio providers.

The court found that the fee of 170 francs ($187) was not unreasonable, but did comment that businesses would likely be let off the radio fee when installing internet in offices for their staff.

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Is there a 5G antenna near you in Switzerland? A new map has the answer

More than 2,200 5G antennas are now deployed in Switzerland, a significant increase from the 102 mounted when the new mobile technology was rolled out in April 2019.

Is there a 5G antenna near you in Switzerland? A new map has the answer
One of the 5G antennae mounted in Switzerland. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Swiss TV station RTS has created an interactive map showing where the 5G antennas are located throughout the country. 

By moving the line on the map, a user can see the progression of the fifth-generation of cellular technology between June 2019, when only 280 antennas were rolled out, and the present time.

The map was created based on the data from the Federal Office of Communications.

The activation of 5G antennas is not uniform across the country, RTS said.

The largest number of transmitting stations are in big cities, led by Zurich (108), Bern (48), Winterthur (30) and Geneva (27). Some towns, like Yverdon-les-Bains, have none.

Currently, 1018 communes— 46 percent of the country’s municipalities ‑ have at least one 5G antenna.

As for the cantons, Bern, with 416 antennas and Zurich, with 375, are the most connected. Vaud (167) and Geneva (109)  have the most antennas in the French-speaking Switzerland.

Switzerland was among the first nations to begin deploying 5G, but this technology has been controversial here, as it has been in other countries as well.

Because of possible health risks associated with the radiation from the antennas, several cantons have not authorised them. However, operators Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt can still deploy the system by transforming 4G antennas, while respecting the same radiation limit values.

The rollout had sparked a nationwide revolt last year, when thousands have demonstrated in Bern against this technology.

More demonstrations against 5G are scheduled to take place on January 25th in Switzerland and other countries.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland has been ranked 'best country' in the world once again