Our telecommunications lawyers have an in-depth understanding of the commercial, technological and regulatory aspects of the telecommunications, VoIP and Advanced Communications Services industries. We deliver pragmatic and sector-specific legal advice to help all our clients — from new entrants to Fortune 500 enterprises — to successfully meet the challenges of today’s complex and rapidly developing global telecommunications & information technologies industries.
We are committed to fulfilling the immense demand for skilled, yet affordable professional services for all businesses operating in and at the periphery of these dynamic industry sectors. Our commitment is embodied in the very structure of our unique and revolutionary “Full Spectrum” professional services business model — for which our firm has been rewarded by clients and our peers.
The CommLaw Group’s Telecommunications, VoIP and Advanced Communications Services practice covers every aspect of a business throughout its life cycle, from regulatory and commercial matters to litigation and lobbying, including (click to learn more):
FCC advocay and ex partes
FCC and State PUC Enforcement
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Why your company needs Specialized Counsel to guide it through unprecedented cycle of technological disruption and destructive innovation...
The dynamic communications services & information technology industries are in the midst of an extraordinary transformation driven by technological convergence and shifting political winds. Businesses need specialized communications law attorneys who understand the industries and technologies, the issues and the politics, and who recognize the value each client expects to receive for its legal and regulatory compliance dollars. Our telecom law advisors help our clients stay ahead of the curve, and are agile and adaptive enough to intelligently counsel them through these turbulent times.
Convergence and the Implications of an Everything over IP Future
Communications and information technologies and associated industries are experiencing a major transformation. Around the globe, the sector has moved from local and state monopolies in telecom and media services to an environment characterized by competition; controlled competition in some areas, intense and unbridled in others. In addition, the bygone era of a separate, distinct and well-defined sector organization has evolved into an era where the boundaries between companies and the services they provide are often blurred.
This convergence phase has been the result of many events such as the digitalization of all types of content, the significant reduction of communication equipment, and the great increase in storage that is now available at minimal costs. Today’s broadband networks make video distribution a reality that is bringing enormous challenges to policy makers and regulators. Technological innovation, convergence, and competition are driving the transformation of national, regional and global economies. Regulators and policy-makers alike have found it difficult to maintain pace.
The conversion of telecommunication networks and all forms of communication and information content to digital standards has created an electronic network infrastructure that facilitates the convergence of formerly discrete telecom services on a single telecom network. More recently, extended applications of Internet Protocol (IP) have permitted the convergence of services on the Internet to include not just data, pictures, music and video, but also voice communication, including public voice services. Voice over IP (VoIP) is the latest major step in a convergence process that has been underway for three decades. It means that now all types of services can be provided in an integrated manner over the Internet using IP. The Internet services in turn are provided over the digital network facilities of telecom operators.
With IP applied to all services, the structure of the overall market for communication services is radically changed from the former vertically integrated structure where most services and facilities were licensed and provided together, to a horizontally structured market consisting of distinct submarkets for network infrastructure capacity, network management, communication services and information services. This reduces the barriers to entry to this market and its submarkets significantly and provides new opportunities for increased participation by new players, entering submarkets at any level and providing a wide variety of service package options.
A more precise characterization of this more recent development in convergence using IP would be “Everything” over IP. All forms of electronic communication now can be provided in an integrated fashion over a single network using IP. Although IP was developed for, and initially applied on, the Internet, the largest users of IP are the incumbent telephone operators around the world. They are in the process of converting their entire telecom systems to IP because of enormous cost reductions and the potential for providing new converged services in the future information economy, including e-commerce, e-government and other e-application services. At the same time, the extended application of IP by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to include public voice services has opened a major new service opportunity for them, and introduced a significant new element of participation and competition in the supply of both public voice services and new converged services.
The introduction of VoIP services has raised a number of issues of adjustment to the new environment by telephone operators and service providers, by policymakers and regulators, and by users. Any major technological improvement that dramatically reduces unit costs and expands service capabilities offers the potential of enormous benefits in terms of network and market expansion, cost and price reductions, and new services development. But it also brings the threat of significant losses to those benefiting from traditional ways of doing things, and a requirement that the inherited structure of policies and regulations be reassessed and modified to meet the new challenges and opportunities unfolding.
That is precisely what the U.S. Congress has undertaken under the auspices of a National Broadband Plan and through the FCC’s Broadband Action Agenda, which lists more than 60 key actions, proceedings, and initiatives the Commission intends to undertake over the next several years to implement the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan.
What all of this translates to is that the regulatory environment is becoming even more complex and volatile than in the past, and will continue to evolve at alarming rates. The CommLaw Group’s team of talented attorneys, many of whom are accustomed to the FCC’s implementation of transformative regulations, assists our clients in dealing with these new compliance challenges. From the very first communications satellite in orbit, the first cable franchise, the rise of MCI and competitive long distance through the break-up of Ma Bell, the introduction of competition through the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and the bursting of the “Dot Com” bubble, our firm’s leaders have guided clients through it all. And due to our vast experience our firm is poised to lead a new generation of communications enterprises through the coming changes.
The CommLaw Group’s Comprehensive Compliance Methodology
The communications lawyers at The CommLaw Group recognize that carriers entering or operating in the
communications services industry are confronted with a multitude of diverse compliance issues, both regulatory and taxation.
New entrants and even established businesses with less than ideal compliance records must achieve an
acceptable level of regulatory and tax compliance. This entails pursuing governmental licenses, registrations and authorizations, identifying and correcting deficiencies, and taking other measures to ensure a company is well positioned to maintain compliance in the future.
Achieving a comfortable level of compliance often starts with an audit and analysis to determine the proper regulatory classification of a company’s business and services; in this day of technological convergence and regulatory uncertainty, knowing what services are provided and how those service are regulated and taxed by the respective governmental bodies is a critical first step.
But the responsibilities of regulated communications service providers do not end upon achieving compliance. Once obtained, compliance must be maintained through a seemingly endless array of administrative burdens, including reporting, filing and fee remittances for both regulatory and tax purposes.
Determining the scope of a company’s compliance obligations, identifying lawful methods of mitigating
compliance burdens, and implementing compliance measures is one of The CommLaw Group’s unique skills. And through The Commpliance Group, our compliance consulting affiliate, we provide a cost-effective, one-stop solution designed to meet all of your regulatory and tax compliance maintenance needs.