Depending on the type of frequency range used by a specific technology, networks can be licensed or unlicensed.
Licensed frequencies are employed by specialised national agencies or directly by mobile network operators that pay for the licensed frequency spectrum and manage and maintain the network. Cellular networks use licensed (reserved) frequencies, where the communication technology is standardized and proven, with very low risk of interference. They are usually public networks, with carrier-grade reliability and security, which means less hustle for the user, but usually comes with an added monthly or yearly access cost.
On the other hand, unlicensed communication frequencies are free to be used by anyone. There is no need to obtain special agreements to create or access the networks. If an unlicensed frequency is approved in the country of use and the network is compliant with the existing standards, anyone can use this frequency to create their private network in any given location.
Most RF mesh and LPWAN networks use unlicensed frequencies. For example, LoRaWAN uses 868MHz in Europe or 915 MHz in North America. The use of unlicensed radio frequencies gives more freedom of choice to the system operator, creating the possibility to own private networks, yet it also means more hustle for the user as the network must be installed and maintained.
Furthermore, as anyone can access the frequency, it is not unusual (especially in high density urban areas) to experience crowded frequencies. Too many people or applications using the same frequencies can result in radio interference. Such interferences usually cannot compromise the payload integrity, but they can delay or even block the payload delivery, which can translate into delayed smart lighting system reactions and functionality.