868 MHz in Italy: do you need a license?

Mario Mollo

Spreading an open network for a better world

Posted on 11-10-2018

The free usability of the 868 MHz frequency in Italy seemed to us a foregone conclusion , at least until a user contacted us.

The user, who is an expert enthusiast of the LoRa world and other low-power and long-range technologies, has been the owner of a TTN LoRa gateway for about two years, and has developed several prototypes, he/she has come to know, thanks to two companies, of the fact that he/she had to pay to be able to experiment with his/her own devices.

The user immediately contacted the MISE (Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico), responsible for managing the frequencies, and the MISE promptly replied that in order to use both LoRa and Sigfox, the gateway owner must pay 250 euros to get the papers and 180 euros every six months.

In addition, the user has received a letter from MISE, which he/she has kindly let us see but that for obvious reasons we do not share here.

The letter contains four main points:

  1. The payment of 250 euros and the signing of the attachment "Authorization request form for IoT experimentation"

  2. Presentation of a test plan related to his/her activities (both indoor and outdoor). The Test Plan will be transmitted to the Defense Administration for a preventive coordination in order to prevent possible interference with existing applications.

  3. Communication of a "stop button" contact person (and relative contact details) able to interrupt immediately irradiation activity

  4. Reporting of the activities carried out, with a commitment to provide the administration with each Information or data becomes necessary

The letter also states that the priority use of frequencies is, however - under the current sector regulations - the military one, therefore, at any time and without prior notice, the use of these can be limited in whole or in part

The user also reported to us that a MISE official reiterated that the frequency range is not free but for private use and subject to military authorization if certain distances are exceeded. In other words, according to the official, the law prohibits selling services on that band of frequencies and soon a European directive on IoT will arrive.

In fact it isn't the first time that we're aware of similar situations, such as the question asked by another user on the TTN forum, whose topic can be found here

This time, however, we are not faced with simple doubts, but with ministerial acts and statements by an official of the MISE.

If what was written above should occur, the first consequences would be the loss of one of the best features of LoRa technology: the low cost.

Secondly, this would promote the spread of other competing technologies, including the NB-IoT.

We therefore ask the reader if he or she has further informations to contact us.
We'll be pleased to have a comparison with his/her experiences.