The general provisions of Italian telecommunications licensing regulation distinguish between general authorizations and individual licenses for the offering of telecommunications services to the public. Operators meeting particular quality and investment requirements may provide telecommunications services or operate telecommunications networks within the scope of such authorizations. For services and networks not covered by a general authorization, an individual license needs to be obtained from the Communications Agency or by the Communications Ministry acting on its behalf.

A new Communications Ministry Decree of November 25, 1997 sets the provisions for the granting of individual licenses for the provision of voice telephony services, mobile and personal communications services, creation and implementation of public telecommunications networks and granting of radio frequencies or specific numbering for the rendering of other public services. The same Decree states the principles affecting the offering of mobile communications by means of DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications) technology and the access to the network infrastructures through DECT frequencies. An individual license is also required in case special obligations are set on the operator, such as participation to the universal service obligations and retaining of a significant market power share.

The number of individual licenses may be restricted only to the extent required to ensure the efficient use of radio frequencies or for number availability. The Communications Agency must grant individual licenses to each requesting operator on the basis of open, non-discriminatory and transparent procedures. An individual license is valid for a maximum period of 15 years and may be renewed. It cannot be transferred to third parties without prior consent from the Agency.

The Decree sets a series of obligations on the owner of an individual license. In case of interconnection to the public telecommunications networks, specific safety and security provisions must be observed, and a general obligation is related to maintenance of the integrity of the network, interoperability of the services and protection of data by the operator. The owner of an individual license must negotiate interconnection with network operators and dedicated lines operators. The licensee must also utilize network apparatus duly homologated under applicable regulation and must communicate to the Communications Agency the technical characteristics of the apparatus and terminal equipment utilized.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.