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Regulatory Matters

The CommLaw Group and its affiliated regulatory compliance consulting firm, The Commpliance Group, have over two decades worth of experience assisting traditional telecommunications service providers, interconnected VoIP providers, broadband service providers, and advanced IP-enabled communications service providers comply with FCC and state telecommunications regulations. Our vast experience combined with cost-effective service provides invaluable ways to help our clients manage the regulatory obligations facing virtually all communications service providers.

The range of regulatory services offered by our firms, individually and frequently in tandem, apply to every stage of the “Regulatory Life Cycle”, including:

  • 214 licensing and 499 registration
  • State telecommunications licensing
  • Helping carriers enter the market through the procurement of other necessary licenses and registrations
  • Tariffing a company’s communications services
  • Monitoring and analyzing rule changes that affect all businesses
  • Preparing the reports a company must file to maintain its certification status 

The CommLaw Group / Commpliance Group family is the only resource a business needs for total telecommunications regulatory compliance.

Market Entry

Securing necessary federal and state licenses, registrations and other authorizations is an essential first step for market entry by competitive telecommunications providers. FCC and state licensing are critical from a compliance perspective, and in addition, obtaining and maintaining required licenses gives wholesale suppliers, carrier partners, customers and investors the comfort needed to grow and sustain competitive telecommunications businesses. The CommLaw Group has extensive experience representing domestic and multi-national telecommunications providers with the full panoply of their licensing needs, including:
  • FCC 214 licenses and authorizations
  • FCC FRN and FCC Form 499 registrations
  • INMARSAT and satellite authorizations
  • Secretary of State registrations
  • State PUC licensing
We understand that many domestic and international companies entering the U.S. telecommunications market have limited resources that are primarily dedicated to funding and building their businesses.  Our firm offers affordable certification and licensing options for all telecommunications services (CLEC, IXC, prepaid calling) and interconnected VoIP providers, including multi-state discounts, blended rates and even capped fee arrangements where deemed appropriate. Our attorneys – who specialize in telecommunications law — are well versed in assisting providers with foreign ownership issues, and in navigating and responding to the heightened review process implemented by the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice. We even assist competitive providers obtain necessary licenses and approvals from the Canadian Radio-Television Telecommunication Commission (“CRTC”), the Canadian equivalent to the FCC.

Market Exit

Compliance obligations do not end once a company has ceased providing services. Indeed, companies that change hands, enter bankruptcy, or wind down their businesses have important regulatory obligations before they can stop providing telecommunications services. This is particularly true of carriers which have obtained 214 Licenses, USAC Filer IDs, 499 registration, and state telecommunications licenses; failing to alert regulators and obtain required discontinuance authorization can result in significant delays, serious fines and enforcement actions.

The CommLaw Group attorneys are experienced in assisting clients in fulfilling FCC and State regulatory obligations related to winding down a business, transferring control or ownership, or modifying or reducing services, including securing FCC 214 discontinuance authority.

Compliance

The CommLaw Group’s Telecommunications Practice Group assists telecommunications providers with virtually every facet necessary for compliance with state and federal regulatory requirements and obligations. 

A provider’s regulatory obligations are largely dependent on the classification of its services. In an industry that is undergoing rapid change, ingrained regulatory regimes often fail to keep pace with ever-evolving technology and services. As a result, many providers of new and developing services are left bewildered as to the proper classification of their company’s services and its resulting regulatory obligations.

The CommLaw Group’s expert attorneys apply their unique, specialized regulatory knowledge and innovative techniques to help clients recognize the appropriate regulatory classification of their company’s existing and planned services and the related consequences, and also identify intelligent and sustainable methods of reducing regulatory impact, both financial and administrative.

Since before the passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, CommLaw Group attorneys have monitored federal and state efforts to address the regulatory obligations associated with IP-enabled services.  As part of this audit process, we also assist clients in determining their resulting regulatory obligations and advise them on implementing internal policies and programs designed to ensure compliance with those obligations.

As part of this process, we also provide our clients with innovative approaches and solutions to reducing their exposure to regulatory fees and assessments.

The Federal Communications Commission, state utility commissions and other state agencies require regulated telecommunications companies to file a vast number and variety of reports. Many of these reports are required annually, semi-annually and even monthly. Failure to pay attention to these reporting requirements can lead to fines, forced customer refunds and even revocation of a company’s operating authority. 

In addition, through a unique arrangement with our affiliated regulatory compliance consulting firm, The Commpliance Group, we also provide nationwide Regulatory Compliance & Reporting Services to ensure clients fulfill all federally and state-mandated reporting, filing, and fee remittance obligations.  We can help with requirements including:

  • FCC Form 499-A
  • FCC Form 499-Q
  • FCC Form 477
  • International Traffic Reports
  • CPNI Certifications
  • State Regulatory Reports and Fees
  • Secretary of State Annual Reports
  • Cyber Security and Infrastructure Protection

Whether you need someone to prepare and file your reports or simply need information to stay abreast of reporting requirements, The CommLaw Group will help your company remain in compliance with the myriad of complex and often burdensome requirements.

Transactions and Acquisitions

The CommLaw Group advises clients on a variety of transactional matters involving a full range of corporate, tax, securities, intellectual property, antitrust, and related issues. Our communications lawyers advise on mergers, acquisitions, and joint ventures of telecommunications companies, and on service agreements, equipment contracts, and other commercial contracts essential to the ordinary course of a telecommunications business. Having established successful relationships with various investment banks and venture capital funds, we are also able to provide introductions to sources of financing, strategic partners, and content providers.

We also help clients with the transfer or assignment of existing licenses, assets and operations, both at the federal and state levels. There are typically three types of transactions in the communications sector which give rise to regulatory considerations. These are:

  • Transfers of Control,
  • Sales or Transfers of Assets, and
  • Assignments of Authorizations

A transfer of control involves a change in ownership of the licensee, but the name of the licensed entity does not change. Asset sales typically entail the transfer of assets from one regulated entity to another, and an assignment involves moving the license from one entity to another.

Many regulatory bodies, including the FCC, do not permit a telecommunications license or regulated assets to be transferred or assigned without prior approval. Since 1994, we have assisted numerous clients in successfully transferring or assigning telecommunications licenses and assets, including the transfer of Qwest’s in-region interexchange assets and licenses to Touch America, which facilitated Qwest’s acquisition of US West.