Communications Enforcement, Investigations and Audits
Communications Enforcement, Investigations and Audits
Communications companies face scrutiny from an alphabet soup of federal and state actors—FCC, FTC, OIG, USAC, PUC and AGs, to name a few—each with their own enforcement priorities and procedures.

Our Communications attorneys know, understand and work with them all.

Whether the matter is a consumer protection inquiry, a whistleblower investigation, “waste, fraud and abuse” oversight, or the result of a publicized incident, chances are good that Kelley Drye has faced the situation before.  We regularly represent clients in audits and investigations relating to the receipt of federal funds, including the $8 billion per year federal Universal Service Fund.  We also handle consumer protection matters before both federal and state commissions and state attorneys general.  We have handled multiple high-profile investigations that involve an agency, an Inspector General and the DOJ in potential civil abd/or criminal enforcement actions. 

We have a keen understanding of the nuances associated with the enforcement processes of whatever entity is conducting the investigation and a reputation for integrity and credibility with these agencies, earned through decades of experience.   We are not afraid to push back against overly zealous inquiries and generate workable results for our clients.

Federal Communications Commission, Office of Inspector General and Federal Trade Commission

  • Investigations into carrier compliance conducted by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, and USF Strike Force, 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 TCPA compliance, cramming and outage reporting

Universal Service Administrative Company

  • Universal Service contributor audits and appeals

  • Lifeline program compliance audits, PQAs and investigations

  • E-rate funding commitments, invoicing and compliance matters

  • High-Cost program compliance audits

  • USF beneficiary withholding matters

State Public Utilities Commissions and Attorneys General

  • Multistate investigations into consumer protection matters

  • State PUC investigations of carrier broadband buildout requirements

  • State PUC investigations of ETC compliance and oversight of agents

Defended and advised multiple clients in the Office of Inspector General, Department of Justice and State Attorneys General investigations related to the USF Lifeline program.

Represented a Lifeline service provider in the largest fine proposed by the FCC at that time and in related whistleblower, OIG and state PUC investigations occurring simultaneously.

Represented a Lifeline service provider in an investigation of a whistleblower tip regarding Lifeline practices.  The investigation was closed with no action after Kelley Drye’s presentation following an internal investigation.
 
Represented telecommunications carriers in over a dozen USF contribution audits, conducted by USAC and by contract third party audit firms.
 
Represented a large CLEC in an audit and appeal of over $1.5 billion in revenues reported on the Form 499-A.  This appeal led to two clarification orders from the Commission and two remands to USAC for further evaluation.

Represented over a dozen carriers in consumer protection enforcement actions dating back to the 1990s, including slamming, cramming and “fat finger dialing” cases.

Represented the leading provider of 911 and emergency communications infrastructure, systems and services in an investigation of a multistate 911 outage in 2014.

Represented an American telecommunications holding company that provides wireless services and is a major global Internet carrier in a multiagency investigation of the carrier’s third-party billing practices for premium SMS messaging services.

Represented a dial-around long distance carrier in an FCC enforcement action proposing several million dollars in fines for allegedly deceptive marketing. The FCC let the statute of limitations expire without imposing a fine.

Represented several prepaid calling card providers in FCC investigations of their marketing disclosures to consumers. Two of the investigations were closed without the FCC taking action. Two proceeded to forfeitures (fines), and were settled or abandoned in ensuing collection actions.

Represented a conferencing provider in an enforcement action for failing to file CPNI certifications. Successfully challenged the FCC’s authority to issue a fine, given its classification of audio bridging services.

Represented a school district in an investigation of alleged competitive bidding violations involving their e-rate service provider.  The investigation closed with no e-rate funding reclaimed by USAC.

Represented several carriers in investigations of their failure to pay USF assessments or of late payment of USF assessments.  We have negotiated settlements and payment plans on multiple occasions.
 
Represented a nationwide provider of telecommunications relay services for the deaf in investigations of billing errors and reimbursement revisions relating to their provision of TRS services.

Represented competitive service provider in cross-venue litigation regarding access charges and VoIP communications.
 
 

Overview

Communications companies face scrutiny from an alphabet soup of federal and state actors—FCC, FTC, OIG, USAC, PUC and AGs, to name a few—each with their own enforcement priorities and procedures.

Our Communications attorneys know, understand and work with them all.

Whether the matter is a consumer protection inquiry, a whistleblower investigation, “waste, fraud and abuse” oversight, or the result of a publicized incident, chances are good that Kelley Drye has faced the situation before.  We regularly represent clients in audits and investigations relating to the receipt of federal funds, including the $8 billion per year federal Universal Service Fund.  We also handle consumer protection matters before both federal and state commissions and state attorneys general.  We have handled multiple high-profile investigations that involve an agency, an Inspector General and the DOJ in potential civil abd/or criminal enforcement actions. 

We have a keen understanding of the nuances associated with the enforcement processes of whatever entity is conducting the investigation and a reputation for integrity and credibility with these agencies, earned through decades of experience.   We are not afraid to push back against overly zealous inquiries and generate workable results for our clients.

Federal Communications Commission, Office of Inspector General and Federal Trade Commission

  • Investigations into carrier compliance conducted by the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau, and USF Strike Force, 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 TCPA compliance, cramming and outage reporting

Universal Service Administrative Company

  • Universal Service contributor audits and appeals

  • Lifeline program compliance audits, PQAs and investigations

  • E-rate funding commitments, invoicing and compliance matters

  • High-Cost program compliance audits

  • USF beneficiary withholding matters

State Public Utilities Commissions and Attorneys General

  • Multistate investigations into consumer protection matters

  • State PUC investigations of carrier broadband buildout requirements

  • State PUC investigations of ETC compliance and oversight of agents

Experience

Defended and advised multiple clients in the Office of Inspector General, Department of Justice and State Attorneys General investigations related to the USF Lifeline program.

Represented a Lifeline service provider in the largest fine proposed by the FCC at that time and in related whistleblower, OIG and state PUC investigations occurring simultaneously.

Represented a Lifeline service provider in an investigation of a whistleblower tip regarding Lifeline practices.  The investigation was closed with no action after Kelley Drye’s presentation following an internal investigation.
 
Represented telecommunications carriers in over a dozen USF contribution audits, conducted by USAC and by contract third party audit firms.
 
Represented a large CLEC in an audit and appeal of over $1.5 billion in revenues reported on the Form 499-A.  This appeal led to two clarification orders from the Commission and two remands to USAC for further evaluation.

Represented over a dozen carriers in consumer protection enforcement actions dating back to the 1990s, including slamming, cramming and “fat finger dialing” cases.

Represented the leading provider of 911 and emergency communications infrastructure, systems and services in an investigation of a multistate 911 outage in 2014.

Represented an American telecommunications holding company that provides wireless services and is a major global Internet carrier in a multiagency investigation of the carrier’s third-party billing practices for premium SMS messaging services.

Represented a dial-around long distance carrier in an FCC enforcement action proposing several million dollars in fines for allegedly deceptive marketing. The FCC let the statute of limitations expire without imposing a fine.

Represented several prepaid calling card providers in FCC investigations of their marketing disclosures to consumers. Two of the investigations were closed without the FCC taking action. Two proceeded to forfeitures (fines), and were settled or abandoned in ensuing collection actions.

Represented a conferencing provider in an enforcement action for failing to file CPNI certifications. Successfully challenged the FCC’s authority to issue a fine, given its classification of audio bridging services.

Represented a school district in an investigation of alleged competitive bidding violations involving their e-rate service provider.  The investigation closed with no e-rate funding reclaimed by USAC.

Represented several carriers in investigations of their failure to pay USF assessments or of late payment of USF assessments.  We have negotiated settlements and payment plans on multiple occasions.
 
Represented a nationwide provider of telecommunications relay services for the deaf in investigations of billing errors and reimbursement revisions relating to their provision of TRS services.

Represented competitive service provider in cross-venue litigation regarding access charges and VoIP communications.
Partner
Email (202) 342-8544(202) 342-8544
John Heitmann, chair of the Communications practice, counsels wireless, wireline and cable broadband and telephony service providers, and other entities, large and small, international and domestic...
Partner
Email (202) 342-8612(202) 342-8612
Steve Augustino’s telecommunications practice is both broad and deep, ranging from regulatory, legislative and administrative law counsel to transactional advice, advocacy and litigation.&nbs...
Partner
Email (202) 342-8518(202) 342-8518
Thomas Cohen’s practice focuses on providing legal counsel to further the business interests of entities engaged in the provision of wireline and wireless telecommunications, cable (video) an...
Partner
Email (202) 342-8566(202) 342-8566
Josh Guyan advises providers of wireline, wireless, Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and satellite services on domestic and international experimental compliance and licensing, as well as Univer...
Partner
Email (312) 857-2350(312) 857-2350
Hank Kelly is the managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office. Hank’s practice is focused exclusively on communications, energy and public utility law and regulation, where he pr...
Partner
Email (202) 342-8540(202) 342-8540
Chip Yorkgitis is a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.  He focuses his practice on telecommunications. Chip represents clients with interests and concerns related to spe...
Special Counsel
Email (312) 857-7087(312) 857-7087
Michael Dover’s practice focuses on technology litigation and dispute resolution.  Mike has extensive first and second chair experience before various federal courts, state courts and st...
Special Counsel
Email (202) 342-8614(202) 342-8614
Denise Smith represents telecommunications companies, including international service providers, competitive local exchange carriers, interexchange carriers, conference calling service providers an...
Associate
Email (202) 342-8503 (202) 342-8503
Avonne Bell is an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office. Her practice focuses on telecommunications and technology matters. Prior to joining Kelley Drye, Avonne was a Senior Manager...
Associate
Email (202) 342-8465(202) 342-8465
Brad Currier is an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.  His practice focuses on communications matters, with an emphasis on investigations, audits, and enforcement actions.&...
Associate
Email (202) 342-8635(202) 342-8635
Chris Laughlin is an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.  His practice focuses on communications matters. Prior to joining Kelley Drye, Chris was a Communications and T...
Associate
Email (202) 342-8459 (202) 342-8459
Jenny Wainwright is an associate in the firm’s Washington, D.C. office.  Her practice focuses on federal and state regulatory and transactional matters involving communications service p...

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