Telecom News

UPC Gigabit Internet: Fast but Expensive

September 25, 2019 - Ralf Beyeler

UPC is now offering a 1 Gbps Internet plan. Ralf Beyeler, telecom expert at independent comparison service moneyland.ch, analyzed the new UPC offer. The Verdict: UPC’s new Gigabit Internet plan is available to approximately twice as many Swiss households as comparable plans from its competitors. But the price tag is high.

Many Swiss telecom service providers, including Swisscom and Sunrise, have been offering Internet plans with advertised speeds of up to 1 gigabit for many years now.

Now UPC, Switzerland’s largest cable network operator and second-largest internet service provider is offering a gigabit Internet plan. “UPC’s jump onto the bandwagon has taken some time,” says moneyland.ch telecom expert Ralf Beyeler.

UPC customers can now get Internet access at speeds of up to 1 Gbps through their cable connection by subscribing to the Connect Giga and Happy Home Giga plans.

Connect and Happy Home

UPC continues to offer two separate product lines. Plans in the Connect product line combine an Internet plan and a basic TV plan without a TV set-top box. Plans in the Happy Home line combine an Internet plan and a TV plan with a set-top box. Customers have the option of adding one of three landline plans.

Gigabit Internet with and without promotional offers

Plans with gigabit Internet (without optional landline plans), one-year minimum terms cost 99 Swiss francs per month (Connect Giga) or 129 francs per month (Happy Home Giga). New customers pay an additional 99-franc one-time activation fee.

UPC is running to special promotional offers up until November 24, 2019. All Happy Home plans (with TV set-top boxes) are on offer for 59 francs per month. All Connect plans (without TV set-top boxes) are on offer for 49 francs per month. Taking the 99-franc activation fee into account, the costs for the first subscription year total 687 francs (Connect) or 807 francs (Happy Home) respectively.

The promotional pricing applies for either the first 12 months or 24 months of the plan, depending on the contract term used.

24-month contracts the new standard

Another new development is the move by UPC towards minimum contract terms of 24 months. UPC customers who prefer to sign up for 12 months instead of 24 pay a markup of 10 francs per month on monthly fees. That is anything but customer friendly, criticizes Ralf Beyeler. He recommends avoiding contracts with 24-month minimum terms.

More expensive than many competitors, even with promotional offers

Ralf Beyeler from moneyland.ch compared the new UPC plans based on six different user profiles. For his comparison, the telecom expert analyzed three profiles without a TV set-top box and three profiles with a set-top box (with HD channels, time-shifting and recording functions).

The verdict: Even with its special promotional offers, UPC is not the most affordable option for any of the six user profiles. Its pricing is between 34 percent and 87 percent more expensive than the most affordable offers from its competitors.

Salt is more affordable than UPC for users who want a TV set-top box and Internet. Sunrise currently undercuts UPC’s pricing with its special promotional offer for new customers. Plans from GGA Maur, green.ch, iWay, M-Budget, Netstream, Solnet, Teleboy and other service providers are also cheaper than the UPC plans for some user profiles.

Even Swisscom is cheaper

Surprisingly, UPC’s gigabit Internet plans are even more expensive than Swisscom’s. As part of a special promotional offer from Swisscom which is running until September 29, 2019, new customers pay 599 francs over the first year. When you compare plans based on standard pricing without considering promotional offers, UPC is among the most expensive service provider. In many cases, UPC’s standard prices are higher than Swisscom’s.

UPCs advantage

The gigabit Internet plans from UPC differ from competing plans on two key points – one positive and one negative.

The big advantage of UPC’s plans is that they are available to around two-thirds of Swiss households. That means UPC is in a position to deliver 1 Gbps Internet to around twice as many households as its competitors. Competing 1 Gbps offers are generally only available to households which have access to optical fiber networks. Only around one-third of Swiss homes are equipped with optical fiber connections.

UPC typically makes full use of its advantage by charging significantly higher prices than its competitors. There are many locations in which UPC has a monopoly on high-speed Internet and thus is able to charge uncompetitive prices. “Consumers who want or need high-speed Internet have no choice but to subscribe to an expensive plan from UPC,” says Ralf Beyeler.

UPCs disadvantage

A disadvantage of the UPC plans is that the advertised 1 Gbps data transfer speeds only apply to downloads. The Internet speed for uploads is a much slower 100 Mbps. High-speed Internet plans from many other service providers deliver speeds of up to 1 Gbps for both downloads and uploads.

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Expert Ralf Beyeler
Ralf Beyeler is the telecom expert at moneyland.ch and also covers other areas of personal finance.