We represent stakeholders with a vested interest in federal and state regulation of communications and technology. Our clients include communications services providers, communications services equipment manufacturers and businesses which sell consumer communications devices or contact consumers. We also serve clients who license, acquire or distribute content and those who invest in or finance any of these entities.
Our team is comprised of attorneys with a strong combination of regulatory, transactional, litigation, dispute resolution and investigation experience in the communications field. We practice before the FCC, NTIA, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as rulemaking advocates and represent clients in enforcement actions, appeals and administrative litigation. We also guide clients in transactions, due diligence and through counseling in areas central to their businesses. We authored the Practising Law Institute’s Telecommunications Law Answer Book and regularly share our insights via our Telecom Highlights blog and the firm’s TCPA Blog, the defense bar’s preeminent public resource analyzing TCPA litigation and regulation.
Our lawyers have significant experience serving communications clients in the following areas:
- Wireless regulation and spectrum management
- Internet and broadband regulation
- Interconnection and intercarrier disputes
- Dispute resolution
- Government investigations and enforcement
- Customer privacy and TCPA
- International processes and regulation
- Privacy and data security
- FCC compliance, audit and enforcement matters
- Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) audits and appeals
- Trademark and copyright issues implicated by communications technology
- FCC equipment authorizations
Wireless Regulation and Spectrum Management
We routinely advise clients on wireless policy, corporate strategy and regulatory matters before the FCC and other federal and state regulatory agencies, spanning licensing, rulemaking, interference and band management, intercarrier disputes, enforcement and universal service. We have represented and counseled bidders in nearly every major FCC spectrum auction and have worked with entities seeking to deploy services on unlicensed spectrum. Effective ways of acquiring, financing, managing and deploying federal spectrum usage rights is a core focus of our practice.
Internet and Broadband Regulation
We actively help carriers and cloud, hosted platform, and other service providers understand the scope and manage the details of the evolving regulatory and privacy frameworks for broadband Internet services and related offerings. This includes guidance in complying with and anticipating changes to the FCC’s open Internet rules regulating retail broadband offerings, managing the relationship between broadband providers and edge providers, leveraging available universal service resources to promote broadband expansion, planning for and executing IP interconnection and satisfying privacy-related obligations in all of these cases.
Interconnection and Intercarrier Disputes
We have more than two decades of experience advising and representing telecommunications carriers in negotiations, arbitrations and federal court proceedings arising under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. We advise telecommunications carriers on compliance with the overlapping web of federal and state regulations in this space, including more recently those related to interconnection obligations between broadband service providers and edge providers and the regulatory implications of the transition of copper-based legacy networks to networks based on Internet Protocol (IP). Our deep experience has allowed us to play a significant influencing role in many of the complex, first impressions issues that have arisen, including those involving rate-setting, cost recovery, cross-subsidy, jurisdictional boundaries and the intersection between traditional interconnection and emerging IP-based technologies.
We work with telecommunications, media and technology clients early to avoid dispute resolution and obtain favorable terms before engaging in often costly arbitration or litigation. When more formal dispute resolution is inevitable, we work strategically to identify or resolve complex jurisdictional issues and defend our clients’ interests cost-effectively. Our broad experience includes intercarrier disputes over issues such as pricing, rate setting, cost recovery, intercarrier compensation and breaches of commercial agreements. We have litigated these issues and defended our clients’ interests in proceedings before the FCC, state regulatory agencies, state and federal courts, and in arbitration proceedings before the American Arbitration Association and International Centre for Dispute Resolution.
Government Investigations and Enforcement
Investigations by government agencies and related enforcement actions are increasingly a part of the environment for businesses in the communications field, and we routinely represent clients in matters involving notices of apparent liability, investigations, audits, data productions and enforcement related activities. We have particular experience representing clients in universal service program compliance matters, audits by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), CALEA-related investigations and license eligibility proceedings.
We successfully advise carriers entering into the video market. This includes helping them to navigate the regulatory challenges, and sometimes uncharted waters, of providing video services by way of IP technology and other emerging technologies to deliver video content to homes and mobile devices. In a seminal case, we were lead counsel to an incumbent telephone company in administrative proceedings that led to the award of the first competitive video franchise in that market and we successfully defended judicial challenges by competing operators.
Customer Privacy and Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
We represent a broad range of clients on existing and emerging customer privacy issues, counseling on trends and compliance options. An area of major focus is the delivery of compliance options for client operations subject to the requirements of the TCPA. We have guided national retailers, energy companies, telecommunications providers, insurance companies, financial institutions and media companies to help them minimize risk and improve their internal procedures to comply with these requirements. This representation includes drafting and tailoring contracts with vendors and customers and advocating before regulators. We routinely work with our class action colleagues to defend businesses in individual and putative TCPA class actions in courts across the country. Our work routinely appears on the Drinker Biddle TCPA Blog, the defense bar’s preeminent online resource analyzing TCPA-related litigation and regulatory developments.
We’re involved in every aspect of television and radio operations including regulatory compliance and appeals of FCC decisions, transactions, intellectual property, real estate and employment matters. We advise clients on acquisitions and sales of non-commercial broadcast stations and provide more routine counseling to non-commercial broadcasters on matters such as underwriting issues and station upgrades. We also assist broadcasters and new entrants to acquire spectrum in commercial broadcast auctions and noncommercial broadcast filing windows.
We frequently advise telecommunications, media and technology companies operating internationally or contemplating it on how to navigate challenges introduced by U.S. regulations governing these activities, by the regulations of the host state and by international accords. We also counsel U.S. licensees and investors on matters relating to foreign ownership of U.S. radio and broadcast applicants and licensees, including the structure of domestic equity investment and debt transactions to comply with federal law.
Equipment Authorization and New Technologies
We advise consumer product and industrial companies on equipment authorization issues, including responding to FCC audit letters and compliance matters. We also assist companies in their introduction of new technologies, including innovative new uses of the spectrum, through the use of experimental licensing and non-licensed spectrum.
Since 2010, we have served as pro bono counsel to the Martha Wright Petitioners in a proceeding before the FCC seeking to end excessive rates and fees for inmate communications services (ICS). We led a coalition of public interest organizations that resulted in the August 2013 decision imposing price caps on the interstate ICS rates and the October 2015 decision imposing rate and fee caps for ICS services, together with additional reporting requirements for the service providers. The FCC’s caps on ICS rates and fees substantially reduce the cost to inmates and their families to remain in contact, permit 2.7 million children with at least one incarcerated parent to maintain strong family ties and save communities more than $250 million annually by helping substantially reduce rates of recidivism. A decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia vacated certain aspects of the FCC Order, and remanded the decision for further review. A petition for rehearing is pending.
The Telecom Highlights blog provides breaking news and important insights regarding Telecommunications issues and the Federal Communications Commission. Our contributors are Drinker Biddle lawyers who have extensive telecommunications law experience handling issues for some of the nation’s largest companies, and who regularly write and speak about these issues.