There are three main providers competing in the mobile market:
- Swisscom: The mobile provider of former PTT Telecom has been offering its services since 1993. It still has the best network coverage in Switzerland, but also the most expensive rates.
- Salt: Entered the market in 1998 as Orange, rebranding as Salt in 2015. Network connectivity is not as good as Swisscom’s.
- Sunrise : Established in 1998. Offers competitive rates but network coverage might be limited in remote areas of the country.
There are other providers that use the networks of the above mentioned providers, offering very good rates. Such providers include M-Budget Mobile, Coop Mobile, yallo, Ortel, Lebara and more.
Prepaid are also available, but your contact details will be registered, as mobile offers are subject to mandatory registration in Switzerland.
Switzerland operates on a GSM network. For Europeans and many other countries, this means that your current phone will probably work in Switzerland. If you are coming from North America or parts of Asia, you will probably have a CDMA phone, which will not work.
To use a GSM phone with a new Swiss SIM card, you need to check whether your phone is unlocked (some phones are specific to the network you already have, for example some Salt handsets). If your phone is not locked to your former provider, you just need a new SIM card.
Cellular phones registered in Switzerland have their own area code. In the early days of mobile telephony, it used to be 086, now it is 076, 077, 078 or 079 depending on the provider.