Radio in Italy


New member
I'm considering taking a couple hand-held ham radios with me to Italy. In a group with three other couples we will be meeting up in train stations, wandering small towns and touring on bikes or Vespas. As an alternative to using cell phones I hope the radios might make it easier for the group to communicate when we're out exploring.

Looking for any advise or warnings for transporting the devices and unlicensed frequencies available like FRS or GMRS.

Prego, Ciao!


Expedition Leader
FRS and GMRS are U.S.-only services and the only international use would be that Canada mirrors them substantially. FRS I think is done similarly in Mexico and South America but I don't know the specifics.

Since you're an amateur radio license holder you often get reciprocity privileges in other countries. How much authority and the hoops to jump through vary from doing nothing except adding a suffix or prefix to you call sign in Canada (the U.S. and Canada have an automatic reciprocity agreement) up to needing to get explicit permissions and paperwork. With CEPT (a European telecom association to which Italy is a party) I don't think you need advance approval but there may be a requirement to be a General class or higher.


Pick up a couple of Motorola i576 or similar PTT cellphones off eBay. Make sure to get ones with Nextel SIM cards in them, not because you need cell network or service but simply to keep the PTT feature active. In my experience these work really well in dense urban areas for upto a 0.5 mile radius worst case and as high as 2 miles, and the best part is they look like (are) cellphones. They are digital (unlike FRS/GMRS) so the sound quality is extremely good and they also provide a measure of privacy since it's very unlikely someone can just listen in unless they have the exact same device and on the same channel.

Sent from my Nokia 7.1 using Tapatalk

Recommended books for Overlanding


Expedition Leader
Will an iDEN/CDMA device work in Italy where there is no iDEN network at all? I thought a phone like the i576 still has to have a iDEN network to dispatch a direct connect rather than an interconnect (e.g. a regular cell call). Even though Nextel's is gone there are still iDEN networks AFAIK in the U.S., which Italy never had nor CDMA at all.

ETA: Doing a bit more research about off-network operation two-way, which I failed to grasp. In off-network mode they become unlicensed ISM band devices with respect to the F.C.C. They appear to have 890mW Part 15 ISM (902.525 to 927.475) radios. Not sure if that translates to anything ITU-wise and specifically to AGCOM in Italy with respect to licensing.
Last edited:


900mhz in Europe is used for cellular communications. 902 mhz ISM is in region 2 only (North, Central, and South America). You run the risk of interfering with cellular communication and could face heavy fines. Using ham radio with CEPT is an option but all users will need to be general class or higher for CEPT privleges ( There is a unlicensed radio band similar to our FRS called PMR446. It is channelized in the 446-447 mhz region. Like US FRS, you need type accepted equipment to operate in the PMR446 band. One good thing is that DMR tier 1 aka dPMR is allowed on the PMR446 service.


Gentleman Adventurer
You can use any radio anywhere in the world long as both radios operate on the same frequencies. Legality is another issue.
GMRS will work just fine .

In Iraq, the troops were using Garmin Rhinos to communicate. That was until some sympathizers in the US sent the enemy the same radios .