This article uses a policy network perspective to assess the independence of regulatory agencies (RAs) in liberalized public utility sectors. We focus on the de facto independence of RAs from elected politicians, regulatees and other co-regulators. We go further than previous studies, which only undertook a general analysis of the de jure independence of RAs from political authorities. Specifically, we apply a social network analysis (SNA), which concentrates on the attributes and relational profiles of all actors involved in new regulatory arrangements. The concept of de facto independence is applied to the Swiss telecommunications sector in order to provide initial empirical insights. Results clearly show that SNA indicators are an appropriate tool to identify the de facto independence of RAs and can improve knowledge about the issues arising from the emergence of the regulatory State'.