Communications

The Energy, Telecommunications and Utilities Practice Group of Barnes & Thornburg LLP has long provided comprehensive representation of telecommunications companies, property owners and end users. This practice has included representation of a number of local exchange companies and their affiliates, as well as telecommunications carriers and associations in other segments of the industry including interexchange carriers, wireless providers, alternative operator, enhanced service and video providers. The firm's practice also extends to cable and video franchising, Internet and computer technology transactions, antitrust, financing, real estate, tax, and other matters. The practice group has also participated, on behalf of customers, in the negotiation of contracts for telecommunications services. The practice group works with developers, property owners and colleges and universities on telecommunications and technology issues, including representing clients in matters associated with perpetual or indefinite term contracts, home run and inside wiring, and Over-the-Air Reception Devices. The practice group also works on Federal Communications Commission matters, including licensing.

The practice group works extensively in federal and state proceedings arising under the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996, including: arbitrations; interconnection agreement disputes; and proceedings involving reciprocal compensation, resale and unbundled network element pricing, operations support systems, performance measures, rights-of-way, universal service, and access charges.

Both before and after the 1985 and 2006 enactment of the Indiana statutes concerning alternative regulation and reform, the practice group has had significant involvement in telecommunications competition proceedings, including deregulation and streamlined regulation of local exchange carriers, interexchange carriers, radio common carriers, wireless and alternative operator service providers, and certification of competitive providers. The practice group has worked extensively in proceedings involving earnings and rates, including reverse rate cases; cost of service; mergers and acquisitions; judicial review; certificates of territorial authority; pole attachments, service quality; customer specific contracts; depreciation; slamming; joint tenant service; infrastructure; affiliate transactions, lifeline assistance and universal service.

Because of rapid changes in the nature and structure of utility regulation, representation in the legislative and governmental affairs arena has become important for telecommunications companies. The practice group, together with the firm's Government Services & Finance Department, has been involved in lobbying, preparing white papers, legislative drafting, and testifying on proposed legislation, including involvement in the following telecommunications statutes: competition in the provision of telephone service (I.C. 8-1-2.6), dual party relay services for hearing-impaired and speech-impaired persons (I.C. 8-1-2.8) and rights-of-way ordinances (I.C. 8-1-2-101(b)); Indiana’s 2006 Telecommunications Reform (HB 1279) (I.C. 8-1-2.6, I.C. 8-1-2.8, I.C. 8-1-2.9, I.C. 8-1-29.5, I.C. 8-1-32.4, I.C. 8-1-32.5, I.C. 8-1-32.6, I.C. 8-1-36; state issued video and cable franchising (I.C. 8-1-34).