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Communications and Spectrum Regulation

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Communications and Spectrum Regulation Image

Litigation

Post-Grant

Prosecution & Counseling

Regulatory Compliance and EnforcementFCC-Enforcemet-Update-Button
Equipment Authorization and Compliance
Spectrum Allocation, Licensing and Leasing
mHealth and Telemedicine
E-Rate
Telecommunications Transactions
Privacy Issues
Carrier Regulation
Foreign Radio Regulations and International Standards

Our Communications and Spectrum Regulation practice is devoted to a broad range of federal, state, and international telecommunications law and policy. We have extensive legal experience with new technology and entry into new telecommunications markets to meet the ever-changing business, regulatory, and technological needs of our clients. Our work regularly brings us before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as well as state regulatory commissions. We are in regular contact with the FCC and often meet with commissioners and their staffs, as well as personnel within the various bureaus and offices in regard to matters involving US federal telecommunications statutes and FCC regulations and policies.

Our group is unique in that we are able to draw upon the firm’s unsurpassed technical expertise, including a number of attorneys with Ph.D.’s and other advanced degrees in science and engineering.

Regulatory Compliance and Enforcement

Fish’s Regulatory group is intimately familiar with the statutes, regulations, and policies applicable to wireless carriers, wireline carriers, and spectrum licensees generally. We routinely counsel clients on the rules pertaining to the licensing, construction, and operation of wireless facilities, whether for private or commercial use. We also provide guidance on the additional regulatory requirements imposed on commercial service providers, including the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), Enhanced 911, Universal Service, provision of service to persons with disabilities, and unauthorized customer changes (“slamming”). Because of our extensive FCC experience, we have the ability to help clients reach their goals within the framework of the FCC’s rules. When appropriate, we counsel clients on the feasibility of obtaining rule waivers or of asking the FCC to initiate rulemakings to change certain rules or policies.

We also provide representation before the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. If a company has been cited as violating a statute or regulation, we analyze its situation and represent it accordingly. We have experience negotiating resolutions that are mutually agreeable to the client and the Enforcement Bureau and we can provide compliance seminars and manuals to help clients avoid enforcement problems in the first instance.

Equipment Authorization and Compliance

Fish has one of the strongest and most technically oriented legal practices in the nation when it comes to obtaining equipment authorizations under Parts 2, 15, 18, 20, 22, 24, 27, 68, and 90 of the FCC’s rules. Manufacturers and vendors rely on us to obtain timely equipment authorizations and access to domestic and international markets. Our equipment authorization and compliance services include the following:

  • advising on compliance issues associated with domestic EMC, electrical safety, radiation safety, environmental, and medical device standards
  • assisting with accreditation standards worldwide and offering one-stop shopping for multinational clients seeking equipment authorization (for test houses and laboratories)
  • participating in FCC decisions involving technical standards for RF devices and assisting in the development of test procedures and other standards
  •  responding to FCC enforcement actions after helping clients negotiate consent decrees and settlement agreements with the FCC

Spectrum Allocation, Licensing and Leasing

Fish has the technical knowledge and practical experience to help ensure our clients are well supported in their ability to acquire and use radio spectrum in support of their operations, such as locating available spectrum and obtaining licenses through various means, including the FCC’s application process, spectrum auctions, third party assignments, or spectrum leases.

Our attorneys are also focused on spectrum allocation, technical standards, and test procedures. We are adept not only at advising clients on spectrum policies and compliance standards for both licensed and unlicensed services, but also at obtaining rule waivers for new or expanded uses of spectrum.

We represent numerous educational institutions that have FCC licenses to use the Educational Broadband Service (EBS – formerly the Instructional Television Fixed Service) frequencies in the 2.5 GHz band to provide video, data, and broadband services throughout the United States. We have participated in every major EBS rulemaking proceeding since the 1980s and are experts in the regulatory and transactional matters associated with the 2.5 GHz band.

Our spectrum allocation, licensing and leasing experience includes the following:

  • assisting with FCC licensing matters, regulatory compliance, license transfers and assignments, band plan transitions, lease administration, etc.
  • purchasing spectrum licenses, obtaining roaming agreements, and representing clients in rulemaking proceedings related to the spectrum allocations and spectrum-based communications systems
  • assisting applicants in qualifying for and participating in FCC spectrum auctions
  • advising on and negotiating spectrum lease agreements on behalf of public and private schools, universities, and Catholic institutions negotiating with commercial operators
  • advising large corporations on creative ways to secure and license sufficient radio spectrum to be used in wide-area private communications networks
  • negotiating agreements in conformance with the FCC’s rules and policies for the relocation of incumbent radio systems in order to clear spectrum for new licensees
  • assisting in resolving radio interference disputes between licensees and in negotiating equitable agreements for shared use of frequencies or interference protections
  • procuring novel rule interpretations and waivers for clients that are attempting to bring new and emerging technologies to market (including RFID and ultra-wideband systems, beam-forming antennas, microwave lighting, wireless medical implants, mHealth mobile applications, multichannel amplifiers, and repeaters)
  • assisting in the development of successful spectrum strategies that enable clients to pursue their marketing goals within the existing regulatory framework

To view the Regulatory Update presented by Edwin N. Lavergne at the National EBS Association 2010 conference, please click here.

mHealth and Telemedicine

We are witnessing explosive growth in medical devices that use wireless technologies to measure an array of physiological and biological parameters and to diagnose, monitor, and control diseases and other health-related conditions. Many medical devices now communicate directly with healthcare workers over the Internet via landline networks or cellular systems. The FCC has allocated spectrum and developed technical standards for implants and body-worn medical devices in an effort to create new opportunities for manufacturers to integrate radio technologies into medical products to improve the treatment of patients and delivery of health care. The FDA has issued guidance for wireless devices and mobile medical apps and is working on guidance for developmental tools for manufacturers to provide consumers and patients with speedier access to mobile healthcare.

Fish & Richardson counsels clients in mHealth and the wireless medical space to ensure that their technology operates compatibly with other spectrum users with a minimum degree of regulation. Our attorneys understand the FCC and FDA device authorization processes, as well as the technical standards for permissible frequencies, power levels, and test procedures required for government authorization and commercial marketing.

E-Rate

E-Rate is the FCC’s program for subsidizing communications services for schools and libraries. Applying for funding is oftentimes a daunting task for clients, but our team is able to navigate the complex Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) application process.

Fish assists schools in applying for funds and adhering to the detailed regulations that govern each step of the process.

We also advise clients in responding to federal inquires regarding E-Rate funding, filing appeals, and responding to requests for recoveries of funds and other enforcement actions.

Telecommunications Transactions

Fish’s Regulatory attorneys have experience navigating complex corporate transactions with telecommunications components, including assistance with regulatory due diligence and disclosures. We have handled a number of transactional issues in the field of telecommunications, including agreements for the sale or lease of communications infrastructure, regulatory approvals needed in the case of bankruptcies, and agreements for the sale or purchase of telecommunications services or the purchase of indefeasible rights of use (IRUs) in telecommunications networks.

Privacy Issues

Fish attorneys also counsel clients on the regulatory and legal issues related to federal privacy requirements. We are familiar with the privacy restrictions in the Communications Act and the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, as well as with the FCC’s rules on customer proprietary network information, subscriber list information, billing name and address, and caller identification. We also provide guidance on the scope of the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and counsel on obligations to disclose subscriber list information to other carriers under section 222 of the Communications Act, as amended.

Foreign Radio Regulations and International Standards

At the international level, the firm is often called upon to advise clients on foreign regulatory programs and equipment licensing requirements in the European Union, Canada, Australia, South America, and Asia. Altogether, we have advised clients on foreign national standards in over 75 countries.

We routinely assist clients with foreign compliance requirements for electronic equipment and medical devices under various EU directives (e.g., EMC, LV, RTTE, medical implants, medical devices, RoHS, and WEEE), as well as other international standards programs, including European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI), European Committee for Standardization (CEN), European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC), the International Telecommunication Union, International Electrotechnical Commission, International Organization for Standardization, and others.

Following the FTC decisions in Rambus (FTC Docket No. 9302 [2006]) and Negotiated Data Solutions (FTC File No. 510094 [2008]), many electronics and telecommunications manufacturers have reexamined their standards activities and how these activities could implicate their patent portfolios.

These same companies are also taking a vested interest in what competitors may be doing to incorporate their patents into consensus industry standards.

We have developed guidelines to assist clients in these matters. To view our Patent guidelines for Participation in Standards Development Organization Activities, please click here.


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