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Practice Area Definition

Communications Law Definition

Communications law refers to laws and regulations relating to the provision of all types of communications services and the companies that provide these services and related equipment. Communications services and the manner in which they are provided have been characterized by rapid change. Telecommunications services today include services provided using terrestrial wireline and wireless telecommunications networks and satellites, while broadcasting services include cable and satellite television distribution services, television and radio broadcasting, and other new media services and providers of the underlying content for these services. Lawyers practising communications law act for providers, owners/investors, and users of these communications networks and services and for communications equipment manufacturers in regulatory and judicial proceedings, as well as on transactional and specialized agreement matters.

Communications lawyers represent clients in proceedings before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) relating to telecommunications policy and regulation including the rates and other terms and conditions of retail and wholesale services and service providers (wireline, wireless, and satellite), Internet services, forbearance, interconnection, telephone numbers, subsidy/basic service requirements, 911 service, ownership, access to buildings, support structures and municipal rights-of-way, and email and telemarketing, and in respect of broadcasting policy and regulation of television and radio services and the delivery of these services (by traditional cable/satellite platforms and new platforms such as the Internet), including the issuance, renewal and terms and conditions of broadcasting licences, Canadian content and carriage requirements, ownership, and eligible foreign services.

Communications lawyers also represent clients on radiocommunication matters before Industry Canada such as the allocation and licensing of radio frequency spectrum, the licensing and approval of satellites and earth stations, ownership requirements, and radio equipment standards and certification.

In addition, communications lawyers represent clients on policy and legislative issues relating to the telecommunications, broadcasting, and media sectors before other government departments; on copyright levies payable by communications services and service providers and content media before the Copyright Board; and in judicial and appellate review proceedings of regulatory and government decisions and actions in respect of communications services and service providers before the Courts and the Federal Cabinet.

Communications lawyers also provide transactional advice on mergers, acquisitions, and financings involving communications companies and/or communications assets, and assist with specialized communications agreements (e.g. resale agreements, roaming agreements, fibre (dark and lit) agreements, indefeasible rights of use (IRUs), interconnection agreements, satellite capacity agreements, municipal access and support structure agreements, television and radio programming distribution, and rights agreements).

Leslie J. Milton, Partner
Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP

Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP logo

Communications law refers to laws and regulations relating to the provision of all types of communications services and the companies that provide these services and related equipment. Communications services and the manner in which they are provided have been characterized by rapid change. Telecommunications services today include services provided using terrestrial wireline and wireless telecommunications networks and satellites, while broadcasting services include cable and satellite television distribution services, television and radio broadcasting, and other new media services and providers of the underlying content for these services. Lawyers practising communications law act for providers, owners/investors, and users of these communications networks and services and for communications equipment manufacturers in regulatory and judicial proceedings, as well as on transactional and specialized agreement matters.

Communications lawyers represent clients in proceedings before the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) relating to telecommunications policy and regulation including the rates and other terms and conditions of retail and wholesale services and service providers (wireline, wireless, and satellite), Internet services, forbearance, interconnection, telephone numbers, subsidy/basic service requirements, 911 service, ownership, access to buildings, support structures and municipal rights-of-way, and email and telemarketing, and in respect of broadcasting policy and regulation of television and radio services and the delivery of these services (by traditional cable/satellite platforms and new platforms such as the Internet), including the issuance, renewal and terms and conditions of broadcasting licences, Canadian content and carriage requirements, ownership, and eligible foreign services.

Communications lawyers also represent clients on radiocommunication matters before Industry Canada such as the allocation and licensing of radio frequency spectrum, the licensing and approval of satellites and earth stations, ownership requirements, and radio equipment standards and certification.

In addition, communications lawyers represent clients on policy and legislative issues relating to the telecommunications, broadcasting, and media sectors before other government departments; on copyright levies payable by communications services and service providers and content media before the Copyright Board; and in judicial and appellate review proceedings of regulatory and government decisions and actions in respect of communications services and service providers before the Courts and the Federal Cabinet.

Communications lawyers also provide transactional advice on mergers, acquisitions, and financings involving communications companies and/or communications assets, and assist with specialized communications agreements (e.g. resale agreements, roaming agreements, fibre (dark and lit) agreements, indefeasible rights of use (IRUs), interconnection agreements, satellite capacity agreements, municipal access and support structure agreements, television and radio programming distribution, and rights agreements).