WASHINGTON, DC — Attorneys from McDermott Will & Emery won a utility industry ruling on wireless attachments that is expected to save the industry millions of dollars a year.
The McDermott team was led by partners Shirley Fujimoto, Christine Gill and Thomas Steindler of the Firm's Washington, D.C. office.
The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ruled that neither wireless attachments nor Internet services are entitled to the low, regulated rate that the Federal Communications Commission claimed was mandated by statute. The Court agreed with the McDermott Will & Emery legal team's arguments that Congress intended to limit the statute's coverage to wireline attachments, and that, because Internet service is not defined as a cable service or a telecommunications service, Internet attachments are not entitled to a regulated rate either.
This landmark ruling reverses a rule issued as part of the implementation of massive 1996 telecommunications legislation.
- In 1996, as part of a major rewrite of telecommunications legislation, Congress mandated that utility companies provide access to their infrastructure at low, regulated rates by not only cable television companies, but all types of telecommunication companies.
- To implement the 1996 legislation, the Federal Communications Commission issued a series of rules. First, the FCC mandated that the statute's low, regulated rate extended not only to traditional wireline attachments, but to wireless antennas as well, which would have an enormous financial impact on the industry. The FCC also held that Internet service was entitled to the same low regulated rate as cable service, notwithstanding the fact that Internet service is neither cable service nor a telecommunications service under the FCC's current rules.