Many of the internet cafés that popped up in the 1990s have now closed, probably because Switzerland has one of the highest rates of high-speed internet connections in the world in households, but there may be a few internet terminals in some major train stations. The tourist office should be able to tell you the nearest one. The starting price is CHF 5 for 20 minutes. The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB FFS) now offer free Wi-Fi at their stations.
You can also send emails, SMS (text messages to mobile phones) or short text faxes from almost any public phone box for less than a franc. In some public phone boxes you can surf the Internet. Many shopping centres and towns (e.g. Lausanne and Vevey) offer free wireless internet access: Ask the local young people, they might know where to go.
Public phones are surprisingly cheap and credit cards are not charged extra.
If you are staying for a while, it may be advisable to buy a prepaid mobile phone card that you can use in any phone that supports the GSM standard in the 900/1800 MHz bands – these usually cost around CHF 10-40 and are available in most cities in the shops of mobile phone providers Swisscom, Salt or Sunrise. Mobile network coverage is close to 100% per area, even in mountainous and unpopulated areas.
There are also many cheap prepaid cards for local calls from other providers. The prepaid cards from the large supermarket chains Migros (M-Budget-Mobile [www]) and Coop (Coop Mobile [www]), for example, cost around CHF 20 and already include CHF 15 of talk time. The cheapest prepaid card for calls within Switzerland is Aldi Mobile [www]: CHF 0.14/min. for fixed network Switzerland and Aldi Mobile, CHF 0.34/min. for other mobile phones. The cheapest prepaid card for international calls is yallo [www]: CHF 0.39/min. to Switzerland, as well as to all European countries and many more (to mobile and fixed networks). These include the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. SMS messages cost CHF 0.10. Prepaid cards can be purchased online (CHF 30 with CHF 30 talk time included), at most post offices (CHF 29 with CHF 20 talk time included) or in Sunrise shops (CHF 20 with CHF 20 talk time included). Lebara Mobile (the sister company of Sunrise) offers another cheap prepaid card. The prepaid card is available for CHF 5 with corresponding talk time and vouchers offer the corresponding talk time for the price of the voucher.