Wiley Rein has one of the world's largest and most experienced international telecommunications practices. It is comprised of attorneys and engineers with extensive experience in both senior government policy-making and private practice. Our clients include established companies and new entrants providing telecommunications, Internet, media, and satellite and earth station services throughout the world as well as major trade associations, equipment manufacturers, and governments. Operating through a wide circle of contacts both in the United States and in regulatory and commercial bodies abroad, we are helping our clients shape the rapidly changing landscape that governs the provision of international telecommunications services today.
In a global environment that is constantly changing, we pride ourselves on our ability to provide creative, strategic, and yet practical solutions to evolving legal problems. By applying our deep practical knowledge about how government decision-makers operate, we have proven to be highly effective advocates for our clients. Our International Telecommunications Practice has the expertise and experience to help ensure your success.
Wiley Rein has extensive experience representing international telecommunications service providers before the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Administration, and Congress, as well as before other governments and international policy-making forums.
The depth and breadth of our experience at the highest levels of national decision-making regarding telecommunications and information and communications technology (ICT) issues are unmatched. Members of our Practice have long been active participants in the development of U.S. telecommunications policy. For example, Ambassador David A. Gross is one of the world's foremost experts on international telecommunications, having addressed the United Nations (UN) General Assembly and led more U.S. delegations to major international telecommunications conferences than anyone in modern history. Richard E. Wiley, former Chairman of the FCC, served as the Chair of the U.S. Department of State's Advisory Committee on International Communications and Information Policy. Nancy J. Victory, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), also served a three-year term as Chair of the FCC's Advisory Committee for the 2007 World Radiocommunication Conference. Anna M. Gomez has extensive international experience having served for six years as Deputy Chief of the International Bureau at the FCC and for over four years as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and Deputy Administrator of NTIA. Similarly, Carl R. Frank, formerly with NTIA, has over 30 years’ experience with international telecommunications law, including foreign legal and regulatory issues, international satellite regulation, and ITU matters.
International Policy Advice and Counseling | International Service Licensing and Operational Requirements | Satellites and Earth Stations | Mergers, Transactions, and Foreign Ownership | Global Market Entry | Privatization, Liberalization, and Other Issues Involving Foreign Governments | Monitoring Policy Developments | National Security Experience | Cybersecurity & Network Security | Privacy | Contact Us
International Policy Advice and Counseling
Wiley Rein’s International Telecommunications Practice provides policy advice and counseling on a wide array of international legal and policy issues. We have extensive experience developing creative and novel solutions for our clients with the U.S. government (including the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC), the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR), the FCC, and many other agencies), ITU, European Commission (EC), OECD, APEC, Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and virtually every other major national ICT ministry and regulatory body. Wiley Rein’s attorneys utilize their unique international contacts and experience to represent our diverse clientele, which include foreign governments and regulatory agencies, international and domestic service providers, major trade associations, and equipment manufacturers.
In addition to representing our clients before judicial bodies, regulatory agencies, and intergovernmental organizations, the International Telecommunications Practice aids clients in monitoring policy developments, devising appropriate strategic plans, and facilitating formal and informal communications with regulatory entities and officials. The International Telecommunications Practice has also assisted national regulators and governments in addressing novel policy challenges, dispute resolution, and cross-border negotiations.
International Service Licensing and Operational Requirements
Wiley Rein has successfully counseled scores of clients seeking international service licensing then helped them comply with the rules governing service provision. The International Telecommunications Practice has assisted regulatory authorities outside the United States in strategic planning and resolving disputes between regulated entities. The Group has also advised service providers on the regulations governing accounting and settlement arrangements with international correspondents, drafted and negotiated complex service provider agreements, and advised on strategies for maximizing business success while complying with European and FCC practices. We counsel companies on the complex process of securing new international frequency allocations at the ITU’s World Radio Conferences as well. The Team has advised submarine cable providers on licensing requirements and the changing regulatory regime in the United States and other key markets for landing and operating submarine cables, and has secured FCC approval to transfer international authorizations on numerous occasions and filed comments on inquiries by telecommunications regulators outside the United States (see Mergers, Transactions, and Foreign Ownership below). In addition, the firm provides a comprehensive training seminar on these and other international telecommunications issues for our clients.
Satellites and Earth Stations
The International Telecommunications Practice is experienced in international and domestic spectrum allocation, licensing, and regulatory requirements for satellites and earth stations. Our clients include global and regional satellite system operators, satellite carriers, and other providers of satellite services, launch service providers, manufacturers, and investors. Our attorneys and engineers have assisted numerous satellite and earth station companies—both established providers and new entrants—in gaining access to the right spectrum to fulfill their business needs. As part of this process, we regularly help our clients identify new satellite service opportunities and successfully complete the ITU’s advance publication, coordination, and registration process and the FCC’s licensing process. For example, we have:
- Assisted a non-U.S. administration in understanding, negotiating, and securing international orbital slot priority for a new satellite.
- Served as restructuring counsel to a global fixed satellite service (FSS) enterprise and assisted in all of its spectrum, licensing, and policy objectives.
- Secured authority for a mobile satellite service (MSS) provider to access additional worldwide spectrum.
- Helped a new entrant secure spectrum rights for a “tweener” satellite that will offer expanded direct broadcast satellite (DBS) capacity.
- Obtained an aeronautical MSS earth station authorization for the provision of two-way broadband Internet service onboard aircraft.
- Helped foreign satellites obtain streamlined access to the U.S. market through the “Permitted Space Station List.”
- Obtained spectrum rights and a U.S. license for our client to offer satellite direct-to-consumer entertainment.
Following acquisition of an FCC satellite or earth station license, Wiley Rein provides day-to-day guidance to ensure our clients’ satellite operations comport with FCC regulatory and technical requirements. As part of this process, our experience includes advising clients on:
- Orbital debris mitigation;
- Ancillary terrestrial component (ATC) rights;
- Satellite network coordination;
- First-come, first-served processing of satellite applications;
- Milestone compliance;
- Network outage, E911, and other required reports; and
- Replacement expectancy for license renewals.
We also offer clients a presentation designed to train in-house personnel to obtain and maintain U.S. satellite and earth station licenses. When necessary, we ensure satisfactory resolution of FCC enforcement proceedings for our clients.
Our International Telecommunications Practice also provides strategic advice and helps clients identify global business development and investment opportunities. For example, we assisted a non-U.S. telecommunications company considering an investment in a satellite service provider with terrestrial expansion rights as a means to secure robust and competitive entry into the U.S. market. We have also secured FCC approval for mergers of, and private equity investment in, satellite system operators, and have recently worked on transactions involving some of the largest satellite providers (see Mergers, Transactions, and Foreign Ownership below).
Mergers, Transactions, and Foreign Ownership
Wiley Rein has extensive experience preparing and prosecuting applications with the FCC for authority to assign and transfer FCC licenses and authorizations, whether to accomplish a corporate reorganization, sale of assets, or merger of entities. We are well versed in the full range of technical and competitive issues that can arise in such cases and have successfully secured approval for some of the largest transactions in the telecommunications sector. Our Team regularly advises companies holding FCC authorizations, potential investors and their counsel on the U.S. “Section 310(b)” limitations on foreign ownership in communications companies. We also help structure mergers and other transactions to ensure compliance with those restrictions. We are experienced in helping clients successfully navigate the host of complicated issues a merger or other transaction proposing foreign investment must face, including:
- Administration security review through the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS);
- Negotiations of network security agreements with federal security agencies (see National Security Experience below);
- Foreign ownership restrictions in the Communications Act;
- State regulatory review; and
- Antitrust review from the FCC and the Administration.
Global Market Entry
The International Telecommunications Practice has advised both U.S. and overseas providers on market entry strategies, in both the regulated, licensed world of traditional communications services and the more evolving, less clarified environment of Internet services. Our Team has advised a leading provider of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) on the entry rules in 100 countries and represented it in preparations for the World Telecom Policy Forum at the ITU. The Team has also advised clients on the issues associated with the acquisition of wireless licenses in a number of foreign jurisdictions. We have additionally advised clients, such as manufacturers of software or communications equipment, on the rules governing export. In addition, the Team has counseled importers of such products into the United States.
Privatization, Liberalization, and Other Issues Involving Foreign Governments
Wiley Rein has advised foreign governments on a host of liberalization options, tailored to meet their stages of development and particular policy objectives. We have worked both through donor agencies to help foreign governments meet their goals and directly with such governments. Through practical legal advice, the Team has allowed governments to achieve their key objective: fostering additional entry into their telecommunications markets. The firm has represented an applicant obtaining a concession from a foreign government to build, operate, and transfer to the government a countrywide digital network that provides voice, data, and other services, resulting in a valuable contract for the client and services that furthered economic development in that country. The Team has advised on compliance with telecommunications trade obligations for countries seeking accession into the World Trade Organization (WTO). The Team has also monitored the annual review of compliance with telecom trade obligations of the United States’ partners on behalf of several clients.
Monitoring Policy Developments
The International Telecommunications Practice stays on top of policy developments with global implications for a broad group of telecom and Internet service and product providers. The Team has experience with efforts now underway at the FCC, the Administration, and in Congress to enhance homeland security, and we counseled the world’s largest communications firms and Internet service providers concerning privacy and security challenges following the attacks on September 11, 2001.
The firm has been actively following developments with the Convention on Cybercrime of the Council of Europe—which the United States, Japan, Canada, and South Africa have signed as Observers—and security developments in the OECD. International Telecommunications Group members have participated in a number of industry and U.S. government interagency meetings on the development of international policy on network security, regulation, trade liberalization, and competition policy. As noted above, members of the Group chair or are active in FCC and U.S. Department of State advisory committees on international communications policy issues. Through such involvement, and from its years of government experience, the Wiley Rein Team keeps its clients regularly apprised of developments that may impact their business operations and cost of regulatory compliance.
National Security Experience
Wiley Rein attorneys have extensive experience assisting parties with foreign acquisitions of domestic communications facilities, which are subject to prior FCC approval. The U.S. Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Homeland Security (DHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), commonly known as “Team Telecom,” typically intervene in the FCC review to ensure that foreign investment in U.S. telecommunications assets does not impair U.S. law enforcement, national security, or infrastructure protection interests.
DHS’s focus on infrastructure protection has drastically increased the scope of the National Security Agreements (NSA) that the DOJ, FBI, and DHS have negotiated. Wiley Rein regularly represents parties to foreign acquisitions before the FCC and in their negotiations with the DOJ, FBI, and DHS.
Wiley Rein has an unparalleled ability to assist U.S. and foreign companies before CFIUS. With more than two decades of CFIUS experience, our Team of legal and policy experts, including former U.S. government officials responsible for CFIUS reviews and the drafting and implementation of CFIUS regulations, have managed numerous complex CFIUS cases. This comprehensive experience positions us to provide guidance on all aspects of the CFIUS process.
Our work includes the negotiation of national security, proxy, and special security agreements. We advise clients on strategies to mitigate national security risks and to address political and public relations issues on the national and local level.
Wiley Rein attorneys and consultants have served in nearly every CFIUS department, including the U.S. Departments of Treasury, Homeland Security, Justice, Defense, State, and Commerce, as well as on the National Security Council (NSC). The firm has longstanding relationships with members of Congress and Executive branch officials, and we have worked directly with congressional committee staff and members of Congress to review and explain potentially sensitive transactions.
Wiley Rein’s CFIUS and NSA experience includes, among others:
- Assisting a Fortune 10 U.S. company through the CFIUS process in conjunction with its joint venture with a government-controlled Middle Eastern company in the oil and gas sector.
- Counseling a major foreign government-controlled satellite company in its acquisition of substantial satellite communications assets serving the United States and the international community.
- Advising in multiple sales of U.S. defense contractors to foreign buyers, and securing CFIUS approval and security clearances from the Defense Security Service (DSS) with respect to Top Secret programs.
- Assisting buyers, sellers, institutional investors, private fund complexes, and foreign sovereign wealth funds with foreign investments in U.S. computer, defense, and natural resources companies.
- Advising in the sale and acquisition of numerous U.S. communications assets, including terrestrial and mobile companies.
Cybersecurity & Network Security
Increasing and disruptive cyberattacks on government and private networks have heightened the need for businesses to protect their assets and reputations and to ensure that government policies are properly focused and balanced. Proposed legislation from Congress and the Obama Administration’s Cyberspace Policy Review, which seeks to create public-private partnerships to protect the nation’s digital infrastructure, likely will have significant national and international effects on corporate activities and business plans.
Most recently, President Obama issued an Executive Order (EO)—Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity—that identifies sectors that will be considered critical infrastructure, requires improvements in government–to-private sector cyber threat sharing, mandates the creation of a voluntary Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Framework, and empowers agencies to reevaluate and improve their cybersecurity regulations based on the Cybersecurity Framework.
Wiley Rein monitors current and developing domestic and international initiatives in this area, and leverages our expertise and experience to shape policy and assist clients.
Wiley Rein has extensive experience helping companies ranging from multinational firms to startups develop and implement corporate and website privacy and security policies. We advise clients concerning data protection laws and breaking developments in critical countries including Argentina, Australia, Canada, the European Free Trade Association, the European Union (EU), Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Taiwan, and Thailand. We have assisted companies in the communications, Internet access, and e-commerce sectors identify solutions to the challenges raised by cross-border dataflows. The Team has drafted privacy policies and notices for world leaders in broadcasting and telecommunications and crafted alternative approaches for telecom companies ineligible to join the US/EU Safe Harbor Program. In addition, the firm has advised startups and leading e-commerce companies on the emerging risk of aggressive EU privacy regulation of the global Internet and proposed steps to reduce the chance of business disruptions.
We have assisted both Fortune 500 and fledgling firms conduct privacy self-assessments and gauge the suitability of the Safe Harbor provisions for their business operations. Our Team has advised communications and Internet service providers on the risks due to privacy regulation from the collection, use, and disclosure of personal data throughout a corporation and around the world, and has suggested options for maintaining free flow of personal information to meet a company’s business needs and minimize risk exposure.
Domestically, our Team monitors current and developing initiatives at the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the FCC, and Executive branch agencies and advises clients on the impact of these initiatives on their businesses.
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