“The next tone it is…”
Time announcement now under 0900 number
It has already been discontinued in France and is still popular in Switzerland. We are talking about the automatic time announcement. However, this can now be reached under a 0900 number.
Yes, the talking clock that gives the exact time over the phone still exists. However, it is now a 0900 number.
Sarah BelgeriRingier journalism student
In the past, if you typed 161 into the phone, a voice would ring out on the other end. “On the next beep it’s…” she said, delivering the exact hour, minute, and second of the time.
You can still hear it, you just have to dial 0900 161 161 since the beginning of the year. The speaking clock has almost cult status in Switzerland – it has been around for more than 80 years. Not so in neighboring France: the service was discontinued there last summer.
Speaking clock now a 0900 number
The information service Regioinfo (1600), which can be used to call up information about school trips, is now a 0900 number. This has been the case for a long time with the wake-up call service. The reason: In 2015, the Federal Office of Communications (OFCOM) decreed that short numbers may be operated until the end of 2022 at the latest. This is because they have “an unjustified competitive advantage” over competitors who would offer their services over a longer single number.
However, users will not incur any additional costs: the automatic time announcement operated by Swisscom previously cost 50 centimes per call and RegioInfo 90 centimes per call.
demand is falling
Despite the 0900 number, Swisscom maintains the service. “Swisscom still sees a certain demand for the speaking clock and the Regioinfo,” explains spokeswoman Annina Merk. However, she expects that the demand will continue to fall due to the elimination of the short number.
Interest in such information services has been “declining sharply for years” due to numerous alternatives, as Merk says. However, Swisscom does not want to communicate exact figures on how many people are still using them. In 2016 it was still said that the speaking clock was called more than a million times a year – especially on the two days of the changeover from summer to winter time.
Information numbers not affected
Rega (1414) or Verkehrsinfo (163) are not affected by the OFCOM regulation because, according to OFCOM spokesman Francis Meier, they do not fall into the category of information services. “For the latter, special conditions have been set for the use of short numbers.”
Information numbers such as 1811 or 1818 can also remain as they are. Their use has also declined sharply in recent years. While in 2017 more than seven million people dialed an 18 information number, in 2020 it was just over two million.
Despite the number of incoming calls, the talking clock is Swisscom’s most popular service.