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Telecommunications
Laws of the World

Overview of legal landscape

Italy
Italy

Pursuant to art. 3 of the Code of Electronic Communications, the provision of electronic communications networks and services - which is of primary general interest - is free. Communication providers need a general authorisation to operate in Italy, although they do not require an explicit measure in the form of an administrative decision.

This concept of general authorisation is derived from the European Authorisation Directive, which has been implemented in EU Member States.

The provision of electronic communications networks and services in Italy is subject to a general authorisation whose effects are produced on the basis of a simple communication in the form of a notification to the Ministry of the Economic Development, rather than to the NRA.

The granting of specific rights is only limited in cases related to the use of insufficient resources (radio frequencies and numbers).

AGCom (Autorità per le garanzie nelle comunicazioni) is the Italian Communications Authority. It is an independent authority established under law 249/1997. AGCOM retains both regulatory and supervisory functions (alongside the Ministry of the Economic Development) in the areas of telecommunications, media, publishing and postal services.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Overview
Italy

Pursuant to art. 3 of the Code of Electronic Communications, the provision of electronic communications networks and services - which is of primary general interest - is free. Communication providers need a general authorisation to operate in Italy, although they do not require an explicit measure in the form of an administrative decision.

This concept of general authorisation is derived from the European Authorisation Directive, which has been implemented in EU Member States.

The provision of electronic communications networks and services in Italy is subject to a general authorisation whose effects are produced on the basis of a simple communication in the form of a notification to the Ministry of the Economic Development, rather than to the NRA.

The granting of specific rights is only limited in cases related to the use of insufficient resources (radio frequencies and numbers).

AGCom (Autorità per le garanzie nelle comunicazioni) is the Italian Communications Authority. It is an independent authority established under law 249/1997. AGCOM retains both regulatory and supervisory functions (alongside the Ministry of the Economic Development) in the areas of telecommunications, media, publishing and postal services.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Laws and regulations

The primary legislation governing the telecoms sector in Italy is D.lgs. No. 259/2003, the Electronic Communications Code ('Codice delle Comunicazioni Elettroniche', 'CCE'), approved on 1 August 2003. The Electronic Communications Code implements the following European Directives:

  • Directive 2002/21/EC on a common regulatory framework for electronic communications networks and services (the 'Framework Directive')

  • Directive 2002/20/EC on the authorisation of electronic communications networks and services (the 'Authorisation Directive')

  • Directive 2002/19/EC on access to and interconnection of electronic networks and associated facilities, and

  • Directive 2002/22/EC on universal service and user rights

In addition to the CCE, the following legislation regulates specific areas related to the provision of communication services and the operation of communication networks:

  • Law No. 249/1997, establishing the Italian Communication Authority (AGCom)

  • D.lgs. No. 206/2005 (the Consumer Code)

  • Detailed rules contained in AGCom Resolutions, including:

    • Annex A to Resolution 179/03/CSP, general directive on telecommunications services quality and charters

    • Annex A to Resolution 173/07/CONS and subsequent amendments, rules for the settlement of disputes between electronic communications operators and final users

    • Annex A to Resolution 226/15/CONS, Rules for the settlement of disputes between operators

    • Annex A to Resolution 194/12/CONS, Rules on enforcement (sanctions) procedures, and

    • Annex A to Resolution 8/15/CIR, National Numbering Plan and implementation rules
Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Regulatory bodies

Ministero dello Sviluppo Economico

Via Molise 2, 00187 Roma
Tel. (+39) 06.4705.1
http://www.sviluppoeconomico.gov.it/index.php/it/
[email protected] 

Autorità per le garanzie nelle telecomunicazioni
Naples Headquarters

Centro Direzionale, Isola B5 - 80143 Napoli
Tel. (+39) 0817507111
Fax. (+39) 0817507616 

Rome Headquarters

Via Isonzo 21/b, 00198 Roma
Tel. (+39) 0669644111
Fax. (+39) 0669644926
https://www.agcom.it/
[email protected] 

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Regulated activities

Electronic communication providers may be classified as providers of electronic communication networks and providers of electronic communication services. There is an additional distinction between public and private use providers. Pursuant to the definitions included in the Framework Directive (and fully transposed in the CCE):

  • 'Electronic communications network' means transmission systems and, where applicable, switching or routing equipment and other resources, including network elements which are not active, which permit the conveyance of signals by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic means, including satellite networks, fixed (circuit- and packet-switched, including Internet) and mobile terrestrial networks, electricity cable systems, to the extent that they are used for the purpose of transmitting signals, networks used for radio and television broadcasting, and cable television networks, irrespective of the type of information conveyed

  • 'Electronic communications service' means a service normally provided for remuneration which consists wholly or mainly in the conveyance of signals on electronic communications networks, including telecommunications services and transmission services in networks used for broadcasting, but exclude services providing, or exercising editorial control over, content transmitted using electronic communications networks and services; it does not include information society services, which do not consist wholly or mainly in the conveyance of signals on electronic communications networks

Art. 2 CCE specifies that the following areas fall under the scope of CCE provisions:

  • Electronic communication networks and services for public use, including radio and television broadcasting networks and cable television networks

  • Electronic communications activities for private use

  • Protection of electronic communications subsea installations

  • Radio spectrum service
Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Registration / licensing

Pursuant to art. 25, par. 3 CCE, the provision of electronic communications networks or services is subject to a general authorisation, whose effects are produced by means of a simple communication to the Ministry of Economic Development. Such communication shall include the statement that the company will begin to provide electronic communications networks or services, as well as other additional information, though limited to those strictly necessary in order to enable the Ministry to keep an updated list of electronic communications networks and services providers. The communication represents a 'declaration of start of the activities'. Nevertheless, it is herein important to point out that - since the transmission of the communication - the company is immediately allowed to start its activity, without having to wait for any formal consent on part of the competent authority. Within sixty days from the transmission of the communication, the Ministry will verify the existence of the prescribed requirements and prohibit the continuation of the activity where such requirements are lacking.

The general authorisation is required for the provision of all electronic communications networks and services in Italy. Such authorisation shall be obtained both for public and for private networks and services. However, a series of derogations (including the exceptions related to the use of spectrum) are prescribed for private networks and services, which might involve a differentiated authorisation system.

The scope for the application of the general authorisation is strictly connected to the concept of 'electronic communication network' and 'electronic communication service' as defined in art. (2)(1)(c) and (d) of the Framework Directive, ie an authorisation is not required for those operators providing for the content transmitted using electronic communications networks and services, rather than the conveyance of signals.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Establishment

From a telecoms regulatory perspective, there are no requirements for a communications provider to be domiciled in Italy prior to or during the provision of services. Advice should however be sought from a tax perspective.

Art. 25 CCE clarifies that the provision of electronic communications networks or services is free (under art. 3 CCE), except for those specific restrictions introduced by regulations and administrative provisions prescribing a particular regime for non-EU or non-EEA companies, or which are justified by general interest objectives.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Interconnection/roaming

Subject to certain exceptions, pre-existing individual licences and general authorisations on networks and telecommunications services for public use shall remain valid until their natural expiration.

The operators may negotiate, among themselves, agreements on technical and commercial conditions for the access and the interconnection. AGCom has the duty to ensure that there are no restrictions that may prevent interconnection and access agreements.

The operators authorised to provide electronic communications networks and services have the right and – when requested by other operators holding an authorisation – an obligation to negotiate among each other the interconnection for the provision of electronic communications services, in order to ensure the interoperability of services throughout the European Union. The operators shall offer the access and interconnection to other operators in compliance with the terms and conditions consistent with the obligations imposed by AGCom.

In exceptional circumstances, the Authority may impose on operators holding significant market power obligations to offer access and interconnection.

An operator established in another EU Member State requesting for access or interconnection in Italy does not need to be authorised to operate in Italy where it does not provide services or networks there.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Consumer protection

A set of specific provisions aimed at safeguarding consumers' rights has been included both in the Consumer Code, laying down the general discipline, and in the CCE.

Art. 70 CCE provides for a list of compulsory information that should be included in contracts concluded with consumers or other final users, in particular:

  • Any restriction on the provision of emergency services
  • Information on any other conditions limiting access to or use of services and applications
  • The minimum levels of quality of the service offered
  • The assurance services offered and the customer assistance provided, as well as the way to contact such services
  • The inclusion of personal data in a directory and the categories of data stored
  • Details on prices and tariffs, as well as the way according to which up-to-date information on all applicable tariffs, maintenance costs and payment systems may be obtained
  • The duration of the contract, the conditions for renewal and termination of the single services and of the contract (including benefits from promotional terms and the charges due on termination of the contract, such as any cost recovery with respect to the equipment furnished)
  • Any compensation which applies in case the level of quality of the service provided by the contract is not reached
  • Information on dispute resolution
Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Taxes and fees

According to Annex 10 to the CCE, companies holding a general authorisation for the installation and provision of public communications networks - including those based on the use of radio frequencies - and companies holding a general authorisation for offering telephone services to the public (subject to some exception) are required to pay an annual contribution, also in the first year.

The effective amount of the contribution varies depending on the geographic area covered by the network or service. The different amounts are listed in Annex 10 to the CCE.

According to Annex 25 to the CCE, in order to gain a general authorisation for private use electronic communications networks and services, contributions shall be paid:

  1. For the preliminary activities of the procedure, and

  2. For the subsequent supervision, including checks and controls on the effective provision of the services and their related conditions

The contributions under point 2. are in the form of annual contributions and may not be divided.

The effective amount of such contributions varies depending on the different network or service provided. The different amounts are listed in Annex 25 to the CCE.

Additional fees may be charged with respect to specific categories of networks or services provided.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Enforcement

If the Ministry ascertains the failure by a company to comply with one or more conditions prescribed in order to gain the general authorisation - or relating to the granting of rights to use radio frequencies and numbers - it may file an injunction to cease the breach and restore the previous situation to the company. If within the prescribed period the company does not remedy the infringement, the Ministry may levy a fine or impose other strict measures.

Pursuant to articles 98 and 102 CCE, in case of installation and provision of electronic communications networks or services in the absence of a general authorisation, the Ministry may impose a fine from EUR 15,000 to EUR 2,500,000 for public use networks or services and from EUR 300 to EUR 3,000 for private use ones, to be determined in reasonable relation to the gravity of the offence.

Additional charges may be levied in case of breach of provisions on spectrum allocation.

Last modified 5 Oct 2016
Contacts
Alessandro Boso Caretta
Alessandro Boso Caretta
Partner
T +39 06 68 880 502
Last modified 5 Oct 2016