Kent D. Bressie - Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP

Kent D. Bressie

Listed in Best Lawyers since 2013

Kent Bressie is a partner with the law firm of Harris, Wiltshire & Grannis LLP.  An expert on telecommunications, international trade and investment, and national security regulation, he advises companies, international organizations, and governments regarding the legal and policy problems of conducting business internationally and deploying new technologies.  Mr. Bressie has extensive experience with legal and regulatory issues affecting undersea telecommunications cables, having represented operators and suppliers in projects on six continents.  Before entering the telecommunications field, he practiced exclusively as an international trade and investment lawyer.  He is recognized in the current editions of Euromoney's Guide to the World's Leading Technology, Media & Telecommunications Lawyers, the Best Lawyers in America - Communications Law, and Washington D.C. SuperLawyers - Communications and International.

Communications Regulation, Licensing, and Transactions.  Mr. Bressie represents communications and technology companies in policy, licensing, and environmental permitting proceedings before the U.S. Federal Communications Commission ("FCC"); the Departments of State, Commerce, and Defense; state and territorial regulators; the International Telecommunication Union; and numerous foreign regulators (particularly in the Pacific and Caribbean regions).  These companies include network operators, service providers, and software and equipment manufacturers in the undersea and terrestrial fiber-optic, mobile, and satellite sectors.  He also advises foreign governments and financial institutions regarding U.S. laws and regulations, and companies regarding the impact of regulation on corporate and commercial transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, financing, new product and service launches, interconnection, and capacity leases.  Mr. Bressie has been admitted as an expert and testified in federal court on foreign telecommunications laws, regulations, and licensing requirements. 

Foreign Investment, National Security, and Cybersecurity.  Mr. Bressie represents U.S. sellers and foreign purchasers of defense and critical infrastructure businesses to obtain investment clearances from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States ("CFIUS") under the Defense Production Act.  Most recently, he has represented sellers and purchasers in CFIUS reviews involving the mobile telecommunications, undersea cables, aerospace, munitions, and electrical equipment sectors.  He also represents service providers, infrastructure owners, and investors in negotiating security agreements with the "Team Telecom" agencies—the Departments of Justice, Defense, and Homeland Security, and the FBI.  He has negotiated innovative security-agreement arrangements allowing for outsourcing of certain security-related functions, and he negotiated the first-ever termination of such an agreement.  In addition to his foreign investment-related work, Mr. Bressie advises companies with respect to the U.S. Government's new cybersecurity initiatives and in implementing cybersecurity plans.  He also advises companies on wiretapping, surveillance, and related policy issues under the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act ("CALEA") and the USA PATRIOT Act.  He represents companies in obtaining and maintaining security clearances and negotiating agreements with the Defense Security Service to mitigate foreign ownership, control, or influence ("FOCI").

Export Controls and Economic Sanctions.  Mr. Bressie counsels companies regarding compliance with U.S. and multilateral economic sanctions and export controls, and represents them before the Departments of the Treasury ("OFAC"), Commerce ("BIS"), State, and Defense to obtain licenses necessary to consummate investment, financial, and export transactions.  Most recently, he has represented companies in seeking licenses under the agencies' regulations with respect to Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, Sudan, and Syria, and worked extensively with the agencies to develop their new regulations for Cuba-related telecommunications transactions.

Trade Policy and Market Access.  Mr. Bressie represents companies before the U.S. Trade Representative and foreign governments in World Trade Organization ("WTO") matters, market access disputes (including disputes over goods, services, investment, and government procurement), and bilateral and regional trade negotiations.  His recent representations have focused on India (reducing security, technical, and local-content requirements for telecommunications equipment and promoting joint cybersecurity initiatives), Indonesia (ensuring access for foreign-flagged vessels installing and repairing undersea cables), Latin America (ensuring compliance with satellite anti-piracy provisions of bilateral free-trade agreements), and ongoing negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  He has served as a consultant to the World Bank, analyzing the impact on economic development of WTO commitments to liberalize trade in basic telecommunications services and investment.

Public International Law and Law of the Sea.  Mr. Bressie represents companies in public international law matters, particularly those involving jurisdictional disputes among sovereign states and the law of the sea.  He has long represented undersea cable operators regarding treaty protections and environmental regulation, as well as mobile carriers regarding the provision of international roaming services and on board cruise ships.  He recently produced a study for the International Telecommunication Union on the legal challenges of deploying marine data sensors on undersea cables. 

Education.  Mr. Bressie graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1994, where he served as Associate Editor of The University of Chicago Legal Forum and won the Joseph Henry Beale Prize for legal writing.  Prior to law school, he served as an economic policy intern in the American Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.  Mr. Bressie graduated from Stanford University, with distinction, in 1991, and studied political philosophy at Brasenose College, Oxford University, in 1990.  In 2013, he placed second in his class for the diploma course of the Rhodes Academy of Oceans Law and Policy, a joint program of the University of Virginia and four foreign universities.

Bar Activities.  Mr. Bressie is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and the Federal Communications Bar Association (Co-Chair, Global Telecommunications Development Committee, 2000-2003). 

He is a native of Portland, Oregon.

Stanford UniversityAB 1991University of ChicagoJ.D. 1994
Federal Communications Bar AssociationAmerican Society of International Law

Case History

Level 3 Communications Acquisition of Global Crossing
Kent successfully represented Level 3 Communications in its acquisition of Global Crossing to obtain consent from the Federal Communications Commission, to obtain clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, to negotiate a network security agreement with the Team Telecom agencies, and to negotiate FOCI mitigation arrangements with the Defense Security Service.
CFC Credit Bid and Acquisition of Innovative Companies — Kent successfully represented National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation ("CFC") in U.S. bankruptcy court and before the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Virgin Islands Public Services Commission, and the Governments of the Netherlands Antilles, St. Maarten, the British Virgin Islands, and France in highly contested proceedings to obtain regulatory approvals for CFC's acquisition of Innovative's telecommunications, cable television, and broadband businesses.  The reorganization transactions were strenuously opposed by the former owner.
Reform of FCC Regulatory Fees for Undersea Cable Operators — Kent successfully led a multi-year effort to reform regulatory fees assessed by the Federal Communications Commission on undersea cable operators, which distorted the U.S. international connectivity market.  Kent represented both Level 3 Communications and Tyco Telecom individually  and led the informal coalition of companies seeking reform.  The FCC ultimately adopted into its regulations the coalition's reform proposal.
OPT French Polynesia Infrastructure Licensing — Kent successfully represented the Office of Posts and Telecommunications French Polynesia ("OPT") to obtain Federal Communications Commission ("FCC") licenses and to negotiate a network security agreement with the Team Telecom agencies for OPT's construction and operation of an undersea cable system between Tahiti and Hawaii.  In the process, he obtained the first-ever FCC waiver of the FCC's foreign carrier structural safeguards and special temporary authority for commercial operation of the system prior to FCC licensing.
UNESCO-ITU-WMO Report on Law and Regulation of Telecom-Marine Data Cables — Kent prepared for UNESCO's International Oceanographic Commission, the International Telecommunication Union, and the World Meteorological Organization the definitive report on public international law and treaty issues arising from proposals to add marine data collection sensors to undersea telecommunications cables.  He chairs the legal committee of the IOC UNESCO-ITU-WMO Joint Task Force on Green Cables, which continues to advise on legal and regulatory issues arising from these new technologies and applications.
DIRECTV Anti-Piracy Initiatives in Latin America — Kent represents DIRECTV in trade negotiations and enforcement proceedings to combat satellite signal piracy in Latin America, particularly in Brazil, Chile, and Colombia.

Office Location

1919 M Street, NW, Eighth Floor
Washington, DC 20036-3537
United States

Practice Areas

Communications Law

Other Information

Gender: Male