Wiley Rein LLP

Communications | WIRELESS

Wiley Rein is the preeminent U.S. law firm specializing in wireless telecommunications issues.  For the past 30 years, we have helped the nation's leading carriers, trade associations, and equipment manufacturers work through myriad regulatory and business obstacles to develop into one of the most vibrant and critically important segments of the global economy.  From the very first comparative hearings for cellular radio licenses to the most recent 700 MHz spectrum auctions, Wiley Rein has been a leading architect in the design of U.S. regulatory policies that affect all aspects of radio spectrum usage. 

Wiley Rein has expert knowledge in all areas of wireless communications including commercial mobile radio services, microwave communications, satellite communications, private land mobile, aviation, maritime, and equipment authorization matters.  We provide regulatory counseling to the nation's leading wireless carriers to ensure efficient compliance with government regulations.  We represent the leading wireless trade associations on broad policy matters affecting the entire industry.  We counsel equipment manufacturers on spectrum allocation matters and equipment authorization requirements. 

We excel in handling cutting-edge litigation and technology issues that intersect with complex regulatory regimes.  Wiley Rein pairs engineering professionals with attorneys who possess significant government, policy, and litigation experience to form client teams that know the legal, technical, and operational issues wireless companies face today.  Having served in high-level positions throughout the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), on Capitol Hill, and in telecommunications companies, our attorneys know the key industry and government players and understand how decisions are made.  Our engineers are experts in spectrum management and FCC licensing matters and are skilled at translating real-world technical issues into relevant public policy positions.  This combination of expertise allows us to provide clients with a full range of services to meet their business needs in a manner unmatched by any of our competitors. 

Regulatory Counseling | Spectrum Access | Mergers & Acquisitions | Litigation and Administrative Enforcement Services | Tower Siting | Contact Us

Regulatory Counseling

Wiley Rein attorneys counsel clients on the full range of regulatory requirements associated with operating wireless services and the manufacture of wireless equipment.  We are experts in the FCC licensing process for all radio services, including experimental licenses and special temporary authorizations.  Wiley Rein also counsels clients on the FCC’s antenna tower siting requirements and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements for lighting and marking.  We advise carrier clients on their regulatory fee requirements, Enhanced 911 (E911) obligations, and compliance with Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) and privacy directives.  Similarly, we advise our manufacturing clients on the full range of equipment authorization matters including radio frequency (RF) exposure standards, hearing aid compatibility requirements, and measurement and testing protocols.  When our clients face investigations due to possible lack of compliance with federal requirements, we have a team of professionals who are focused on developing appropriate and timely solutions with the FCC.  In short, the firm’s Wireless Practice is structured to provide clients with expert and comprehensive service on everything from the simplest application processing question to the most complicated new service venture.

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Spectrum Access

From established carrier to startup, Wiley Rein’s Wireless professionals understand that access to spectrum is often the difference between the success or failure of a business venture.  Wiley Rein professionals have the expertise to advise any and all clients on the most efficient means of acquiring the necessary spectrum to achieve any commercial or noncommercial communications objective. 

In addition to having complete knowledge of the FCC licensing process, Wiley Rein has unmatched experience and expertise in the following areas:

  • Spectrum Auctions – Wiley Rein has participated in every major U.S. spectrum auction since the program was initiated in 1993.  We work actively with the FCC staff to develop the most current interpretations of anticollusion requirements and ownership reporting obligations to enable efficient auction participation by our clients.
  • Spectrum Leases – Representing 700 MHz Guard Band Managers, Wiley Rein helped establish the FCC’s current policies and reporting obligations for leased access to spectrum.
  • Spectrum Allocations – Wiley Rein has partnered with the nation’s leading wireless interests to effectuate changes in U.S. spectrum allocation to the benefit of our clients.  This includes working with the industry’s leading telecommunications providers, handset manufacturers, and major industry trade association on the 2 GHz and 700 MHz allocations for Advanced Wireless Services and public safety communications.  Wiley Rein also has vast experience in acquiring allocations for more tailored applications.  For example, we helped a global leader in medical technology acquire an allocation near 400 MHz for medical telemetry devices and helped a leading handset manufacturer convince the FCC and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) to reallocate the 4.9 GHz spectrum for public safety broadband services. View a chart of the principle mobile broadband spectrum allocations from 30 MHz through 3 GHz. The chart, created by Wiley Rein, shows the relative locations of the bands, with detail insets noting channelization and current technology use by carrier as of the first quarter of 2012.
  • Rule Waivers – The firm is adept in seeking rule waivers or other changes to facilitate expanded uses of spectrum.  For example, we are currently helping multiple local and state governments seek waivers to use maritime mobile spectrum for critical public safety communications networks in both insular and coastal areas.
  • Unlicensed Spectrum – Wiley Rein attorneys have long played key roles in the development of new unlicensed radio operations including WiFi, unlicensed personal communication service (PCS), spread spectrum, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), and Ultra-Wideband.   We helped create an unlicensed PCS clearinghouse established by the FCC and were instrumental in securing the 5.8 GHz bands for IEEE 802.XX products.

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Mergers & Acquisitions

The firm has handled hundreds of mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and other transactions before numerous federal, state, and international regulatory bodies—from those involving Fortune 500 companies to those involving wireless startups.  In particular, the Wireless Practice is experienced at structuring transactions both to meet regulatory requirements and to facilitate the timely receipt of regulatory approvals.  Wiley Rein attorneys have substantial experience not only in preparing and filing applications but also in vigorously advocating the grant of necessary federal and state authorizations. 

In addition, the firm is experienced in defending transactions against a variety of challenges.  We have frequently been successful in getting difficult and complex transactions approved in a timely manner.  Over the last several years, our Wireless professionals, in close collaboration with the firm’s Corporate Practice, have worked on securing the regulatory approvals for some of the industry’s largest transactions. Notably, we recently represented Verizon Wireless in its $28.1 billion acquisition of Alltel, securing FCC approval of the transaction in an unprecedented time of less than five months from first announcement of the deal.  We specifically counseled the company on meeting regulatory requirements and facilitating the timely receipt of regulatory approvals.

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Litigation and Administrative Enforcement Services

Wiley Rein’s Communications litigators are second to none.  The Group is composed of former Supreme Court, federal court of appeals, and district court clerks who possess an in-depth knowledge of appellate and communications law, the technology behind various networks and delivery systems, and the business models and business goals of our communications clients.  We are able to shape complex regulatory, constitutional, and technology issues into winning legal cases. 

We represent clients in trial and appellate courts and agency tribunals across the United States.  In particular, the firm has developed substantial expertise in FCC enforcement actions and has appeared in a variety of formal and informal complaint proceedings, hearings before FCC administrative law judges, and FCC Enforcement Bureau and Inspector General investigations.  Our attorneys also have substantial expertise in conducting internal company investigations and helping clients develop regulatory compliance programs.

Recent litigation matters include:

  • Currently acting as lead counsel for the wireless industry in the D.C. Circuit Court challenge to the FCC order requiring wireless carriers to install eight hours of backup power at all cell sites.
  • Secured a major victory on behalf of wireless carriers and equipment manufacturers in a set of consolidated cases involving allegations of injury caused by radiofrequency emissions from wireless devices and systems. 
  • Successfully represented handset manufacturers in referral proceedings at the FCC involving 911 call completion.
  • Successfully defended a telecommunications provider against a lawsuit by the City of Rome, New York challenging our client’s historical right—granted by the city in 1912—to access and use the rights-of-way. 
  • Represented a group of telephone companies as intervenors in a D.C. Circuit case challenging the FCC’s authority to impose retroactive liability on providers of prepaid calling cards, and argued the case on behalf of the industry’s two largest telephone companies, which had also intervened in the action. 

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Tower Siting

Wiley Rein attorneys have a comprehensive understanding of the myriad regulatory issues affecting tower construction and use.  We have extensive experience counseling and representing service providers and infrastructure providers in the full range of FAA and FCC processes and requirements for antenna structure construction and use.  Our expertise includes understanding how to satisfy environmental and safety requirements as well as how to structure compliance with technical radiofrequency limits.  We also have experience designing company processes and internal checks to ensure compliance with all applicable antenna structure requirements.  In addition, Wiley Rein attorneys are particularly experienced in FCC enforcement actions and have effectively handled several landmark tower forfeiture cases before the FCC. 

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Contact Us

Nancy J. Victory
202.719.7344 | nvictory@wileyrein.com


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