Communications Law Definition
The practice of Communications Law covers a wide range of legal aspects affecting the establishment and operation of electronic communication networks and the provision of electronic communication services of any type of content (voice, text, data, sound, video, radio, television, applications, or any other information or online services) by any existing technology and equipment (wireline, wireless, fixed, mobile or satellite, point-to-point, broadcasting, analogue, or digital). The ever-changing and global nature of communications involves not only domestic law but also regulation from the European Union and other international law.
A significant part of this practice concerns compliance with sector-specific regulation (licensing and authorisation, access and interconnection, numbering, spectrum, rights of way, network security and interception, price and other contract terms, mandatory services, reporting, and other regulatory obligations) and representation before communication regulatory authorities. However, communication lawyers should also assist in other regulation areas relevant to communication services and networks: personal data protection, consumer rights, planning and environmental protection, public procurement, electronic commerce, media regulation, and competition law. Being a sector in constant evolution with emerging technologies and overlapping markets, regulatory advice on prospective legislation and lobby with the policy makers are part of this legal practice.
The transactional part of communications law encompasses negotiation of all type of agreements with other competitors (access, interconnection, roaming, infrastructure and network sharing, establishment of technical standards), providers (rights of way, construction, rights of use and leases, equipment purchase, maintenance services, outsourcing, technology licences, content licences, agency and distribution, private equity and financing), and customers (general contract terms, resale, managed services, service level agreements). Communication lawyers also play a major role in mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, and corporate advice to the communication industry.
Communication lawyers cannot disregard dispute resolution. The correct management of disputes range from early assessment review, negotiation, mediation, and other alternative dispute resolution techniques to final arbitration or litigation. Dispute resolution may require the intervention of regulatory authorities or even litigation against such authorities. Expertise in the communication industry contributes to find agreeable business solutions to avoid conflict efficiently.
The practice of Communication Law inextricably reflects business, regulation, and technology intertwined in the communication industry.