Originally published in Inside Towers on May 6, 2020 4:00 am.

Phillips Lytle Telecommunications Law: Advancing Infrastructure

Phillips Lytle’s 185-year history of legal excellence stands strong on the principle of “Accept great trusts and responsibilities and fulfill them with the utmost skill and fidelity.” Founded in 1834 by Orsamus H. Marshall, this firm has earned top recognition, including U.S. News – Best Lawyers® “Best Law Firms,” The Best Lawyers in America©, Super Lawyers® and Chambers USA.

Although telecommunications as we know it today didn’t exist when Mr. Marshall started the firm almost 200 years ago, Phillips Lytle is today a national leader in telecommunications law, with a particular focus on all aspects of the deployment of telecommunications infrastructure.

Led by Special Counsel David Bronston, the Telecommunications Practice Team has extensive experience with all types of network buildouts, including macro sites, small cells, data centers, fiber and other infrastructure.

Bronston said, “As we are painfully learning amid the COVID-19 crisis, there is a significant need for rapid deployment of infrastructure and for more robust networks. Also, over the past five years, we’ve seen small cells becoming a key part of the telecom landscape, and it’s now more important than ever to provide fiber to small cells, towers and data centers – whether in cities, suburbs or underserved rural areas.”

Phillips Lytle attorneys are extremely experienced with the regulatory and leasing authorizations necessary for network buildouts. As carriers and tower companies continue to drive the development of infrastructure toward 5G, they are finding that local and state municipalities still struggle under the federal, state and local laws that address telecom infrastructure, such as the 1996 Telecommunications Act and the 2018 Declaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order. Phillips Lytle works to combat barriers to deployment by assisting with zoning approvals, pole attachment agreements, tower and small cell agreements, rights-of-way access and franchise agreements, and other telecommunications infrastructure touchpoints for wireless and fiber service providers.

To advance infrastructure, the firm also works closely with the Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) and other thought leaders to help implement successful deployments around the country. “Phillips Lytle has a niche that you don’t see in any other firm,” said Bronston. “Our Partner, Doug Dimitroff, is a member of the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee (BDAC), and Doug and I are both on the Board of Directors for New York State Wireless Association (NYSWA). These industry relationships are important, as they help clients with onboarding and training since it’s critical to ensure site acquisition specialists are educated in lease agreement terms and federal, state and local regulations.”

With increased deployment activity across the U.S. and the influx of new technologies like IoT that use the infrastructure, the Telecommunications Team at Phillips Lytle can assist clients with all regulatory and transactional aspects of the buildout.

On the business/corporate side of the telecommunications world, Phillips Lytle can assist in the growth of companies that specialize in towers, fiber or data center buildouts as well. By assembling a multidisciplinary team of attorneys, Phillips Lytle offers clients services that can take ventures from inception through funding, network and service rollout, and growth (organic and by strategic acquisition), to profitability and successful exit.

Broken out specifically, the firm’s Telecommunications legal capabilities include:

  • Environmental matters, including National Environmental Policy Act and State Historic Preservation Office approvals, and other state procedures such as the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act.
  • Litigation involving claims under the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
  • Local and national site leasing work for carriers, infrastructure providers and others.
  • Negotiation, due diligence and closing of master lease agreements, single-site lease agreements, build-to-suit agreements and other telecommunications agreements involving real estate, such as campuses, multi-tenant environments, REITs, military bases, federally owned property, casinos, arenas, stadiums, hotels and malls.
  • Permitting, zoning and land use issues for telecommunications carriers and infrastructure owners, including deployment of small cells in the public rights-of-way, municipal franchises, and other public rights-of-way agreements and pole attachment agreements.
  • Transactional matters, including private equity, venture capital and debt financing, mergers and acquisitions, and asset purchases and sales involving telecommunications infrastructure.

For more information about Phillips Lytle’s Telecommunications Practice, visit their website at https://phillipslytle.com/practice-area/telecommunications/.