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Italy finally joins the WiFi club – Portugal next?

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Italy still hasn't quite got the idea of "licence-free" spectrum at 2.4 GHz, and has decided to legalise WiFi - but only if you apply for permission, says the Government.

The official Government-sponsored information site (available here in English) says that it has legalised both 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands for public access WLAN.

Permission is needed, but won't be withheld, it seems.

That leaves just Portugal amongst the major Western European countries with a ban on commercial WiFi services. In theory, this means that if you take a Centrino notebook computer to Portugal, you're breaking the law, but probably only if you tell someone you're doing it. Most visitors to the country aren't aware of the regulation, and when NewsWireless.Net staff recently stayed at a hotel near Lisbon, we set up our own WiFi hotspot, without anybody noticing (update: Portuguese reader says we're wrong)

The Italian decree, signed by Communications Minister Maurizio Gasparri, has a couple of quirks in it. In particular, he specifies what sort of public site is acceptable:

"The decree defines ... spots open to the public and areas with high public attendance. Among the chosen places for the use of WiFi there are hotels, bars, restaurants, malls and fast food chains where people can have the chance to connect to the Internet with broad band wireless access," it says.

Intriguingly, there appear to be security regulations, too.

It asks the retailers "to use an identification code for users who access the public network."

© NewsWireless.Net

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