It has been many years since Migros and Swisscom first partnered to offer M-Budget mobile services, Internet connections and combo package deals for home communications. As per February 1, 2018, a number of changes have been made to M-Budget products.
Changes to mobile contracts
M-Budget continues to offer two different mobile contracts – the Mini contract for 19 Swiss francs per month and the Maxi contract for 29 francs per month. The prices of both contracts have not been changed. M-Budget customers also continue to benefit from Swisscom’s modern LTE network (4G).
However, M-Budget has raised the download speed of its mobile data service to 50 Mbps from the previous 22 Mbps, and the upload speed to 5 Mbps from the previous 2 Mbps. Ralf Beyeler, telecom expert at independent comparison service moneyland.ch, states that “A fast Internet connection is important in today’s world. The newly upgraded data service will meet the needs of most mobile customers”.
However, Beyeler also notes that it is disappointing that data limits were not increased. M-Budget contracts still come with 600 megabytes (Mini) and 2 gigabytes (Maxi) of data per calendar month. The standard rate of 10 centimes charged for each additional megabyte used is also a negative for consumers, although M-Budget limits this additional data charge to a maximum of 5 francs per day. Customers can now purchase additional 500-megabyte packages for 5 francs per package. Previously, 5 francs only procured a 250-megabyte package. Data entitlements expire after 30 days.
Cumulus points for unused data
A more significant change: Mobile Internet users now earn Migros Cumulus points when they do not completely use the monthly data entitlement that comes with their contract. For every 10 megabytes of unused data entitlement, M-Budget customers earn 1 Cumulus point with an equivalent value of 1 centime. Customers who do not make full use of their data entitlements receive statement credits up to a maximum of 2 francs per month.
The Mini contract comes with 60 minutes of call time for other networks and unlimited call time for phone calls to other M-Budget users. The Maxi contract now includes a flat rate for unlimited phone calls to Swiss fixed and mobile phones, rather than the 2000 minutes of call time included previously. This change will not affect a large number of customers. A negative change is that phone calls to fixed lines in many countries are no longer included in the contract.
Existing contracts have automatically been converted to the new, revised contracts. However, existing M-Budget customers are not affected by the new terms and conditions applicable to long-distance calls because the previous allowances for international phone calls (Mini: 60 minutes, Maxi: 2000 minutes) remain in place for existing contracts.
Changes to fixed-line Internet packages
Alongside changes to its mobile network, M-Budget has also made changes to its fixed-line contracts. M-Budget offers a combo package deal which combines a phone line with a broadband connection, and another combo package deal which includes cable television in addition to broadband and a phone line.
No changes have been made to the M-Budget Internet only deal. Customers still pay 49.80 francs for a fixed connection with 50 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload Internet connectivity.
The Mini package also cost 49.80 francs. Optional services can be obtained at additional fees. These include installing a broadband connection (10 francs), installing cable TV (20 francs) and unlimited phone calls within Switzerland at a flat rate (10 francs).
M-Budget Mini combo customers get a data connection with a 20 Mbps download speed and a 2 Mbps upload speed. The Speed Maxi option increases bandwidth to 50 Mbps for downloads and 5 Mbps for uploads. That speed is sufficient for standard, single Internet users, but somewhat slow for families with several Internet users. Beyeler points to the fact that “Data connections with speeds of 1 Gbps – 20 to 200 times faster than the Speed Maxi offer from M-Budget – are now offered in Switzerland.”
The TV Mini package deal includes 150 TV channels, 80 of which are available in high definition. The TV Maxi package deal includes 250 TV channels, 100 of which have high definition video. The additional functions offered are up to date and sufficient for most customers. Functions include live pause, replay TV (Mini: 30 hours, Maxi: 7) and a record function (Mini:100 hours, Maxi: 1000 hours).
When compared to the previous offers, the new TV offers deliver significant upgrades to customers. Previously, customers received a virtual video recorder with either 30 or 100 hours of recording capacity. This has been increased to 1000 hours. The number of TV channels has also increased significantly to 250 channels of which 100 are high definition channels from the previous 150 channels of which 80 were high definition channels.
The Voice Maxi option is interesting for consumers who make a lot of phone calls. For 10 francs they can make unlimited phone calls to Swiss fixed line and mobile phones at a flat rate.
Depending on how customers use services, however, the new M-Budget offers can end up costing more than the previous offers. Previously, customers who only used their fixed connection for basic Internet connectivity and cable TV and did not make many phone calls could get the services they needed for 39.80 francs per month. Now, the cheapest package is 49.80 francs – but Internet connectivity is 10 times faster. Customers who use 50 Mbps data connectivity, the biggest cable TV package and flat rate phone calls also pay 10 francs more than they did previously. The additional 100 channels and 900 hours of recording time are the only upgrade for this type of customer.
Existing fixed-line customers have not been automatically upgraded to the new package deals, but they may switch to the new offers if they choose to.
Verdict from telecom expert Ralf Beyeler
The verdict from the moneyland.ch telecom expert is that “the new mobile offers from M-Budget are not bad” but “similar competing mobile services are available for just under 30 francs”.
While M-Budget stood at the cutting edge of the Swiss mobile service market for many years and forced its competition to keep up, it is now simply reacting to market developments which have already transpired. Many service providers already offer flat rates of under 30 francs per month for phone calls.
The offers are not particularly innovative. “The idea of letting customers earn Cumulus points for unused data is an interesting marketing strategy” according to Beyeler. However, an increase in the amount of data included in packages would have been more useful to consumers.
It is also disappointing that the M-Budget collaboration between Swisscom and Migros has not adopted one of the most important innovations to have hit the Swiss mobile communications market in recent years: non-expiring data entitlements. The competing “SimplyMobile” service available at Coop and its Fust and Interdiscount subsidiaries provides data entitlements which do not expire at the end of each billing cycle.
The fixed-line offers (Internet, telephone line, cable TV) stand out in that M-Budget customers now have more flexibility to select the services which match their needs. Competing service provider Sunrise introduced this strategy to the Swiss telecommunications market in 2014 and it was adopted by market leader Swisscom in 2017. It is now being adopted by M-Budget.