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What does a Telecommunications Lawyer do?

By Elise Czajkowski
Updated: May 16, 2024

A telecommunications lawyer advises and acts on behalf of clients in matters concerning media and telecommunications. In many countries telecommunications is regulated by government bodies that place restrictions on how such business is conducted. A telecommunications lawyer will counsel and represent clients who have a telecommunications dispute before these regulatory bodies.

Telecommunications, also known as telecom, is a broad field that encompasses telephony, radio, television, Internet, and other media. Telecommunications legislation can range from censoring material that is deemed offensive to restricting the multiple ownership of certain media entities in any one market. Laws related to telecommunications are generally enforced by a specific regulatory body. In the United States, this body is the Federal Communications Commission.

An attorney focusing on telecommunications works with telecom companies to ensure that they operate within the laws. This includes advising on mergers, acquisitions, and investments, particularly those that raise antitrust concerns from the government. Most countries have strict rules to prevent telecommunication companies from developing a monopoly in their field.

Telecommunication laws affect a variety of different companies, including cable and satellite television providers, print and broadcast media companies, and Internet service providers. As technology continues to evolve quickly, different types of telecom and media companies are being created. As these new areas develop, telecommunication laws are devised to govern them.

A corporate telecommunications lawyer may also be involved in disputes between telecom companies or between a telecom company and another business. These disputes can involve issues that include intellectual property disputes, contract negotiations, and other matters. Given the global nature of technology, telecommunications law often includes cross-border deals.

A telecommunications lawyer may also work on behalf of the government to enforce regulations and promote competition between telecom companies. Government regulators are also required to make sure that telecommunications does not interfere with national security. For instance, a key priority in this area is ensuring that certain radio frequencies are reserved for emergency services.

Given the amorphous nature of technology and the ongoing changes in telecom law, the work of a telecommunications lawyer changes over time. For most of the 20th century, telecommunications law was concerned primarily with the regulation of telephone companies and the technology related to telephone lines. In modern times, telecom law is more likely to involve mobile phone providers and Internet companies and the infrastructure related to establishing and maintaining these industries.

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Discussion Comments
By Logicfest — On Dec 28, 2014

@Melonlity -- And the peculiarities of being an administrative law judge are precisely why attorneys shooting for one of those positions have to learn everything there is about the field they want to wind up presiding over.

In the case of telecommunications, that is a large and complex subject. The administrative law judge will be called on to apply the law, rules and policies of the FCC and other related things to cases brought between him or her.

And those decisions have to be fair and consistent. Hearings before the FCC are usually resolved by an administrative law judge and that's all there is to it. However, there is an avenue for appeal and the quickest way to justify an appeal is to point out an inconsistent or wrong ruling.

By Melonlity — On Dec 27, 2014

A telecommunications lawyer could also wind up working for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as an attorney or as an administrative law judge. In fact, it is a goal of a lot of attorneys to wind up as administrative law judges because there are government benefits, a steady paycheck, good retirement program and usually a decent salary.

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