Originally published in Inside Towers on May 30, 2019 4:55 am.

It’s Good to Be a Law Firm in a Growing and Changing Market

A roiling, growing, literally ground-breaking industry like wireless infrastructure is a great backdrop for a law firm who is steeped in telecommunications knowledge. With increased buildout activity across the U.S., and the influx of new technologies to serve it, the Telecommunications Team at Phillips Lytle LLP is adept at taking on all legal challenges that stand in their clients’ way.

The firm throws a wide net over their coverage, support and defense of the telecom market such as litigation involving claims under the 1996 Telecommunications Act, combating barriers to entry, state and federal pole attachment agreements and disputes, contract disputes, tariff defenses, and foreclosure proceedings. 

They handle every relevant issue from lease and license agreements, to dark fiber and managed services agreements, to interconnection and co-location agreements, to master purchase and service agreements with Original Equipment Manufacturers, to spectrum leasing and more.

Douglas W. Dimitroff, a Partner at Phillips Lytle, leads the law firm’s Land, Environmental and Energy Practice Group that covers the telecom sector for the law firm. Dimitroff has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications matters and is on the FCC’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee and chaired the BDAC’s Model Code for Municipalities Working Group.

He has seen the market change a great deal over that time, from a municipality’s complaints over the intrusion of macros sites, to the encroachment by inconspicuous small cells on public rights-of-way. “Municipalities are still pressing the issue,” Dimitroff said, “and they’re still resistant to enhanced deployment on private property.”

His firm has seen an uptick in activity over the past 18 months with the roll out of small cells and 5G and says it has gotten easier to upgrade sites than in years past. This is largely due to the FCC’s passage in 2014, of Section 6409, a federal law that requires approvals of modifications to an existing structure, as long as there is no substantial change to the structure.

New developments, dark fiber or data centers, present new legal challenges, according to Dimitroff. “There are always legal issues,” he said. “If the land’s not owned by the tower owner,” he said, “issues arise on how the property is defined, the local municipal codes, required zoning, and public rights-of-way.”

Dimitroff said his team is up to the challenge in answering those questions head on by hiring attorneys and staff with solid backgrounds in the industry and experience in markets across the country, who have, “a good perspective of what’s happening on the ground.” Through handling projects outside of the U.S., Dimitroff said they have developed an international perspective as well.  

The motto of their founder more than 180 years ago still rings true: “Accept great trusts and responsibilities and fulfill them with the utmost skill and fidelity.” For more information on Phillips Lytle, click here.