Kelley Drye’s Communications practice assists a wide array of enterprises ranging from global carriers to start-ups – individually or collectively as part of a coalition or an industry association – in meeting their legal and regulatory needs with representation and advice that is effective, practical, creative and on budget. Our clients look to us for advice and representation with respect to communications related regulatory, transactional and litigation matters where assessing risk, recognizing opportunity, and achieving a desired outcome are of paramount concern. We offer holistic solutions including advocacy, lobbying, litigation and compliance advice, as well as narrower solutions that may stand alone or be part of a broader initiative. We take pride in our ability to meet the evolving needs of our diverse client base and we are particularly well regarded for our work in the following areas:
Universal Service Fund (USF)
We represent associations and individual enterprise contributors to and beneficiaries of this $9 billion annual fund in policy advocacy, business strategy, product development, licensing, compliance, audits, investigations and enforcement.
Investigations & Enforcement
- Lifeline – We are the go-to regulatory and compliance resource for eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs), vendors, consultants and others who support ETCs participating in the Lifeline Program. Our extensive work in this space involves work before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau and Office of Inspector General (OIG), Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), multiple state commissions and state program administrators, the Department of Justice (DOJ), the courts and Congress.
- Contributions – We are the leading group providing strategic advice and representation involving reporting obligations to the USF. We regularly advise clients on USF audits, FCC petitions and appeals, and USF diligence to support transactions. Our work includes policy advocacy, compliance advice, audits, diligence, enforcement and investigations.
- Connect America Fund / Rural Digital Opportunity Fund – We advocate for a wide array of interests with respect to the development and implementation of these “high cost” funds. We also help fund recipients successfully navigate the myriad federal and state regulatory requirements governing such funding.
- E-rate –We work with both schools and libraries that apply for funding under the program and with service providers that provide eligible E-rate services. Our work includes mastery of the Eligible Services List, application/PIA reviews, compliance training and all forms of USAC beneficiary audits and related enforcement actions, including both FCC Enforcement Bureau investigations and OIG matters.
We represent clients in audits, investigations, enforcement matters and appeals involving the FCC, DOJ and other federal agencies, state commissions and state attorneys general. Our work includes False Claims Act defence involving both civil and criminal matters.
Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA)
- Federal Communications Commission, Office of Inspector General and Federal Trade Commission
- Investigations into carrier compliance conducted by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau with assistance from substantive Bureaus
- Office of Inspector General investigations into program compliance and alleged fraudulent practices
- Failures to pay contributions to USF and other FCC programs
- Carrier marketing and billing practices, including Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) compliance, cramming and outage reporting
- Universal Service Administrative Company
- Universal Service contributor audits and appeals
- Lifeline program compliance audits, PQAs, appeals and investigations
- E-rate funding commitments, invoicing and compliance matters
- High-Cost program compliance audits
- USF beneficiary withholding and repayment matters
- State Public Utilities Commissions and Attorneys General
- Multistate investigations into consumer protection matters involving mobile marketing, Internet access and other communications services
- State PUC investigations of carrier broadband buildout requirements
- State PUC investigations of Lifeline and certification/registration compliance and oversight of agents
Our TCPA team combines the expertise of regulatory attorneys, government relations lobbyists and class action litigators to offer clients a holistic approach to compliance, advocacy and class action litigation defence. We were the primary law firm representing Intervenors supporting Petitioners in the ACA International v. FCC
case decided in March 2018. We also represented Amerifactors and successfully secured an FCC decision clarifying the limited scope of the TCPA in December 2019. Our team is active in all facets of the FCC’s work on TCPA interpretation and related robocall enforcement and each month we produce the widely followed TCPA Tracker.
We represent a diverse array of interests in spectrum matters across many spectrum bands, including those supporting aviation, satellite, cellular, PCS, SMR, microwave, millimeter wave, location monitoring, GPS, radar, meteorological, 900 MHz paging, automobile and other interests. We represent clients not only before the FCC, but also before Congress, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and other federal agencies, and by coordinating foreign spectrum counsel in multi-national exercises, and in connection with ITU World Radiocommunication Conferences.
Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI)
We work with clients in and around the IoT and evolving (AI) spaces—communications, wireless, Internet service and Software as a Service (SaaS) providers, automobile manufacturers, smart home device manufacturers, data and analytics software providers, among others—helping them understand and keep up-to-date with rapidly evolving global legal frameworks for IoT and AI, and working with them to develop strategies that successfully navigate issues ranging from regulatory classification to consumer protection issues such as privacy and cybersecurity.
Data Privacy & Security
We advise international and domestic clients on federal and state (e.g., California Consumer Privacy Act) data privacy, security and other consumer protection issues arising from the collection and use of consumer data for marketing and other purposes. Our work includes policy development and compliance advice with respect to established products and new ones under development, as well as representation in rulemakings and litigation matters involving consumer privacy and data protection law.
New CommTech Entrants
Kelley Drye was the leading firm representing competitive local exchange carriers (CLECs) during the introduction and development of competition after the Telecom Act of 1996. Today, we carry on that tradition of representing start-ups, cutting edge providers and investors, with our work in broadband services, ACS accessibility for gaming and other applications, MVNO regulation, Unified Communications/UCaaS, messaging, IoT, AI and spectrum allocation.
International Telecoms and Submarine Cable Operators
We assist international telecoms in developing and implementing U.S. entry and expansion plans, including those triggering review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS) and/or Team Telecom. We also handle submarine cable licensing matters for domestic and international clients.
Voice Telephony & Internet/Broadband
We represent and advise cable, VoIP and other voice and Internet service providers on an array of policy matters before the FCC and compliance matters including universal service, accessibility, video programming, and “Open Internet” regulations.
Partnering seamlessly with practitioners from across the firm, our Communications attorneys work with buyers, sellers and investors to develop strategies to structure and negotiate domestic and cross-border transactions involving regulatory due diligence, remedial compliance strategies and regulatory approvals. We can handle the entire transaction, regulatory aspects only, or anything in between. Our experience encompasses transactions involving wireline, wireless and interconnected VoIP providers, both domestic and international (including those triggering Team Telecom and CFIUS review).
We specialize in rights-of-way and litigation, arbitration and dispute resolution, as well as in telemarketing-related matters with regulators, including the FCC, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and state attorneys general. We regularly defend clients in connection with TCPA and other consumer protection class action matters, and FCC, FTC and state enforcement investigations and actions of all kinds, including those involving the Universal Service Fund, the TCPA and the False Claims Act.