A flat fee is a fee model in which the cost of all services included in an offer are accounted for in the base fee. Rather than paying fees based on the amounts of goods or services used, the customer simply pays a single (large) fee for limited or unlimited use of goods or services.
Flat fees are widely used by Swiss telecom service providers. Rather than charging customers for calls on a per-minute or pre-hour basis, or for each SMS message sent or megabyte of data used, telecom service providers simply charge a flat fee which entitles the user to unlimited phone calls, Internet access or SMS messaging within the confines of the agreement. Services which are not covered by the flat fee are billed separately.
The three largest telecom service providers in Switzerland – Swisscom, Sunrise and Salt – all offer flat fee deals. Typically, flat fees cover unlimited calls to Swiss landline and mobile numbers. Some expensive plans also include allowances for international phone calls or mobile roaming in the flat fee.
However, it is important for consumers to get informed about the exact services which are covered by the flat fee to avoid unpleasant surprises. For example, the flat fees of some Swiss mobile plans only cover phone calls within the same mobile network.
Internet plans with a flat fee typically include unlimited Internet access without throttling. However, some Swiss telecom service providers market flat-fee Internet connections which only let you access the Internet at advertised speeds up to a monthly data limit, after which the service is throttled, making the connection extremely slow for the remainder of the month.
Even Internet connections which include unlimited data transfers in the flat fee do have limitations. For example, maximum Internet speeds may apply. In the case of mobile plans, flat fees typically only cover Internet access within Switzerland. Using data while traveling abroad (data roaming) is not typically covered by flat fees.