Communications Regulatory

Why Cooley

Cooley has one of the largest and most diverse communications practices in the United States. Our lawyers represent virtually all segments communications and related industries regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and other state and local government agencies. Our lawyers are intimately involved in all varieties of FCC rulemaking proceedings and other policy initiatives important to the sector.

As our clients have innovated and developed new technologies, our practice has similarly evolved. We have assisted the geospatial services industry as it expands GPS and other navigation offerings and have been at the forefront of the commercial unmanned aerial vehicle industry and its relationship with the FAA. We regularly counsel emerging companies as they shape their businesses around technologies that use spectrum, satellite or global positioning navigation and create and distribute content on platforms regulated by government or state agencies.

Areas of Practice


  • Assist clients on key issues related to competition, including interconnection, universal service, telephone number portability, privacy and entry into rural markets
  • Counsel clients on adherence to regulatory requirements imposed by the FCC and federal and state agencies
  • Represent clients in enforcement proceedings ranging from individual complaints, notices of inquiry and notices of apparent liability to broad, industry-wide inquiries

TV & Radio Broadcasting

  • Represent clients in structuring, negotiating and consummating acquisition, financing, local marketing, joint sales, management, programming and shared services agreements, from initial due diligence through closing and post-closing matters
  • Advise broadcast clients on major FCC policy initiatives
  • Represent investment banks, commercial banks and media companies in connection with private and public equity and debt financing transactions, as well as in restructurings and bankruptcy proceedings

Cable & Broadband 

  • Prepare and negotiate contracts for cable systems, including commercial leased access channel agreements, easement and building access agreements, MDU agreements, agreements for business services, pole attachment and conduit agreements, fiber lease and sharing agreements, roaming agreements and municipal franchise agreements
  • Handle acquisition, disposition and financing agreements for cable operators


  • Counsel clients on regulatory matters including auction policy, wireless number portability, early termination fees, wireless interconnection and intercarrier compensation  
  • Assist clients in the startup phase of their wireless businesses, including obtaining spectrum in an auction, acquiring and managing network infrastructure, purchasing and leasing tower sites, developing strategies for compliance with license requirements and FCC operational rules, preparing customer agreements and negotiating intercarrier agreements


  • Represent satellite companies in contract negotiations, mergers and acquisitions, licensing, patent and copyright issues
  • Represent clients in compliance matters before the OFCCP, DOJ, FAA and FCC  

Navigation Equipment & Technology

  • Represent established and emerging companies in the geospatial services industry, including manufacturers of GPS devices and UAVs
  • Advise on regulatory challenges and work to ensure that regulatory policies are conducive to the development of clients’ businesses

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

  • Counsel on compliance with regulatory requirements imposed by the FAA, federal, state and local agencies
  • Prepare and obtain Section 333 exemptions, Certificates of Waiver of Authorization and Special Airworthiness Certificates
  • Assist proponents of emerging technologies with legal and business issues arising from proposed and existing legislative and regulatory regimes, including before Congress and in agency rulemaking

Financial Transactions

  • Serve as special counsel to companies in complex financial transactions subject to federal and state regulation, including regulatory due diligence, compliance counseling and remedies enforcement
  • Represent financial institutions, from investment and commercial banks to private equity firms, in analyzing regulated industries and identifying new opportunities 

Mergers & Acquisitions

  • Assist in all stages of sale, swap and purchase transactions involving media and communications businesses, beginning with due diligence and determinations regarding regulatory compliance and potential economic effects of likely regulatory or legislative changes
  • Evaluate and address business and regulatory issues in proposed transactions
  • Prepare, negotiate and consummate all transaction documents and related agreements

Privacy & Data Protection

  • Provide the full spectrum of counseling and litigation capabilities in privacy, data rights and cybersecurity
  • Advise on privacy concerns associated with the use of communications technologies

Intellectual Property

  • Formulate and implement effective intellectual property development and protection strategies and oversee clients’ interests in a variety of business transactions
  • Counsel on standards organizations and other regulatory agencies and educate on the overlapping and complementary relationships between patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets
  • Handle a high volume of technology and licensing agreements covering virtually every media and entertainment platform

Communications Litigation

  • Represent clients throughout the United States in trial and appellate courts and before administrative agencies
  • Represent clients in a broad range of disputes relating to transactions, corporate governance, communications standards, open access, radio and television affiliation agreements, syndication rights, wireless license rights, spectrum auctions and spectrum allocations, as well issues relating to broadcast retransmissions and other copyright disputes

Representative Matters

  • Digity Companies on its $264 million sale to Alpha Media
  • 1010data a provider of big data discovery and data sharing solutions, on its sale to Advance Publications, a global, diversified private media company
  • SoftBank Corp. on the regulatory aspects of its $21.6 billion acquisition of Sprint Nextel Corporation
  • Cox Communications on the regulatory, corporate and antitrust aspects of its $300 million sale of Advanced Wireless Services spectrum to Verizon Wireless and creation of the follow-on joint marketing arrangements between Cox and Verizon Wireless
  • JetBlue on the regulatory aspects of its $400 million sale of subsidiary, LiveTV, to Thales Holding Corporation
  • Garmin International in its successful defense of GPS spectrum and services against interference that would have been caused by LightSquared's proposed high‐powered terrestrial broadband network
  • Harpo and Oprah Winfrey in connection with the formation of OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network, a 50/50 joint venture with Discovery Communications to rebrand the Discovery Health Network
  • Lead and liaison counsel for CenturyLink in multidistrict litigation involving 75+ consolidated lawsuits and 600+ defendants concerning allegations of improper collection of "access charges" for wireless calls. The court dismissed the case with prejudice.
  • Center for Public Integrity in First Amendment claim based on investigative series regarding off-shore tax havens. The case was dismissed.
  • Major US cable companies in connection with their cable affiliation and programming distribution agreements, including affiliation agreements for carriage of the Fox suite of cable programming services, Univision, HBO and various regional sports networks