Internet of Things and telecom law issues

by DLA Piper
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Internet of Things technologies require the communication between devices on telecom networks that vary depending on the type of service provided.  Such communications in some cases lead to telecom law issues in relation to the possibility to use the relevant telecom network and obligations triggered by such usage.  These are among the issues that the Italian telecom authority, AGCOM and the UK telecom authority, OFCOM, will be discussing during the current consultation on the Internet of Things.

We have already discussed about the some of the legal issues affecting Internet of Things technologies such as those pertaining data protectioncybercrime and security and proprietary vs. open source platforms also with reference to wearable technologies and eHealth and telemedicine technologies.

However, also telecom law related issues are relevant for the Internet of Things and below are some of the most debated matters on the topic:

Required telecom license

The required telecom license will depend on the type of technology used for the communication between Internet of Things or Machine to Machine (M2M) devices.  Indeed, at the moment there is no specific exemption for Internet of Things technologies that therefore are treated as any other telecom service.  The main issue does not derive only from the license or general authorization required, but by the telecom law obligations that are triggered in terms of level of services, notifications and obligations towards consumers.

Usage of allocated Spectrum for Internet of Things communications

The range of the spectrum to be used leads to consequences also in terms of level of service and obligations (as well as required telecom license) connected to its usage and security.

Interconnection, interoperability and portability of the service

With different platforms from different suppliers that are being built, the issue is whether there is any interoperability obligation of providers as prescribed with reference to communications services or in absence of that whether the regulator should impose it.

Numbering and addresses

Devices in an Internet of Things environment need to be identified and communicate between them.  The usage of numbers for the communication between devices leads to telecom law obligations that might be less burdensome if a numbering range was allocated to such technologies.  At the same time new types of “addresses” for Internet of Things devices are being developed by-passing issues connected to the usage of communications numbers;

Permanent roaming of Internet of Things devices

Internet of Things technologies can lead to scenarios of permanent roaming which are difficult to accommodate in the current regulatory scenario.  Also, they lead to issues in terms of costs of the roaming service.  The issue is therefore whether Internet of Things devices shall be treated as any other type of telecom service.

These issues are going to be discussed by OFCOM and AGCOM as part of the above mentioned consultations and it will be interesting to see their outcome which will have a considerable impact of the future rules for the Internet of Things.

This is an interesting topic and we are discussing with a number of suppliers in the market in order to adequately focus the attention of the AGCOM on their most relevant legal issues as part of the consultation.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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