and law firms in the UK
TELECOMMUNICATIONS: An Introduction
Contributed by Danny Preiskel. Senior Partner, Preiskel & Co LLP
Preiskel & Co’s Views on the European Telecoms Market and Signifi- cant Legal Developments
Society at large owes the telecommunications and technology indus- try a great deal for providing the connectivity enabling businesses and governments to function during the COVID lockdowns, whilst en- abling consumers to order food and other goods whilst stores were closed. Thanks to the combination of fixed and mobile broadband connectivity, together with cloud hosted telephony systems, many individuals and businesses (and dare I say governments) have been able to function surprisingly effectively away from the physical office
ESG in the Telecommunications Sector
The COVID related pandemic brought into sharp focus the need for broadband connectivity as part of broader welfare and there has rightly developed a move for “digital inclusion” and an emphasis on connecting the unconnected.
ESG is certainly entering the telecommunications industry lexicon and indeed Danny Preiskel was pleased to be a judge for the brand new ESG in Telecoms Award at the Capacity Carrier Awards, the “Tel- ecoms Oscars”. Given the extent of new telecoms infrastructure being constructed throughout the globe to carry the exponentially increas- ing volumes of data across the planet, it was most welcome and even heart-warming to read of some of the carbon neutral and other ESG beneficial approaches adopted for new telecoms infrastructure.
As of March 2021, 159 mobile operators had committed to the GSMA Humanitarian Connectivity Charter, an initiative to strengthen the resilience, preparedness and response capability of connectivity systems in well over 100 countries, to help save lives where natural disasters strike, whether caused by global warming or otherwise.
The Race for Digital Inclusion Continues Deep into Space
Whilst there are more mobile connections than humans, and over 5 billion unique mobile subscribers, further progress is still required and being made to improve digital inclusion and achieve a world where everyone will be connected to everyone and everything.
The race to provide broadband coverage across the globe has seen billions of dollars ‘launched’ into space over recent years invested in a range of satellite systems designed to bring internet connectivity across vast areas of land and sea. 2020 was a landmark year in this front with two major satellite deals making national headlines, namely (i) the USD6 billion acquisition of Inmarsat by a private equity consor- tium; and (ii) the acquisition of OneWeb by a USD1 billion consortium comprising the UK Government and Bharti, which has enabled it to continue with its ambitious plans and OneWeb is, as of late 2021, over halfway to achieving its 648 LEO (Low Earth Orbital) satellites in space target. News reports state that OneWeb has filed with the FCC for per- mission to deploy 48,000 satellites, providing a sense of the enormity of the investment to come and expectation of the scale of satellite con- nectivity usage anticipated across the globe in years to come.
Meanwhile in the space race, Elon Musk’s company SpaceX has al- ready launched 1400 small satellites for its Starlink “mega-constella- tion” of approximately 12,000 low earth orbit satellites that is intend- ed to bring internet coverage to the entire planet.
Global connectivity from outer space can bring many benefits and save lives, whilst also reducing pollution, for example using ‘satellite
to ship’ connectivity to ensure that tankers and cargo vessels travel at optimum speeds to minimise pollution and reduce fuel consumption.
While the vast number of billions invested in launching satellite connectivity is to be welcomed, IMSO, the de facto satellite regulator in terms of safety via global coverage, will have to play an increasingly important role in ensuring that global satellite coverage will be pro- vided across the oceans and sparsely populated regions, even where uneconomical.
EU Roaming Charges Are Back Thanks to Brexit
With thanks to those who voted for Brexit, MNOs are grateful to be able to once again charge UK subscribers when they roam in the EU.
In fact, it is also good news for the EU based MNOs, who will no longer be capped by the EU Roaming Regulations for their wholesale mobile roaming services to UK customers. The UK MNOs will be faced with those increased charges but in turn will be passing them on to their UK customers, no doubt with a decent margin on top. Not only will UK subscribers have the joy of Brexit-provided roaming charges, they will now find that, thanks to Brexit, they can no longer watch BT, Sky or other paid-for content services anymore in the EU as the UK no longer benefits from the EU Portability Regulation.
Mobile Network Operators Investment in 5G and Broader Connectivity With mobile network operators (MNOs) spending billions for 5G spec- trum and on the cost of rolling out 5G networks, there are three as- pects that I would like to draw the reader’s attention to.
1. The Cost of a Huawei Ban: The extent to which MNOs are to be allowed to use Chinese owned Huawei equipment (due to security concerns), which for many MNOs is significantly cheaper and more ef- ficient than the leading European alternatives of Nokia and Ericsson.
This uncertainty makes it especially difficult for those MNOs that are already using Huawei equipment to plan future network deployment, whilst any future requirement to replace installed Huawei equipment would I expect be additionally expensive and disruptive. Needless to say, there has been a great deal of lobbying by the interested equip- ment providers. Ultimately, if MNOs are prohibited from using Huawei entirely or, as is currently the UK position, just for certain aspects of 5G, that is in effect a further government imposed significant expense and disruption for MNOs.
At the same time MNOs are seeing revenues from traditional calls and SMS declining in mature markets, whilst COVID-19 travel restric- tions have significantly reduced lucrative roaming revenues.
2. MNO Consolidation: On the plus side for MNOs as we progress into 2022, the CJEU handed down a significant judgment, albeit ‘after the horse had bolted’, approving the merger in the UK of O2 and 3UK, owned by Telefónica and Hutchison respectively. The deal had crucial- ly been blocked by the EU Commission in 2016 and this was viewed by the investment banking community and others as the death of 4 to 3 MNO consolidation in major markets, without significant divestiture conditions being imposed.
However, whilst the CJEU decision has come far too late to revive that merger, the significance should not be underestimated for Eu- ropean MNOs. In each market a likely purchaser of a small MNO is a larger MNO in its own market and the ability for such a merger to be completed without divestiture of significant assets ought logically to increase the value of both MNOs.
The CJEU decision significantly raised the evidential burden upon the EU Commission in blocking future MNO mergers. That having been said, the 4 to 3 MNO consolidations that have been approved in the last two years have been of a large MNO acquiring the smallest one in its market (e.g. T-Mobile NL/Tele2 in the Netherlands) so we are some way from the top two MNOs in a market obtaining merger approval without being required to divest.
However, in the UK, the Enterprise Act provides the UK with more flexibility to block arguably harmful deals that are still short of a dominant position, it being enough for there to be lost competition between the merging parties.
3. EECC Mandating Regulators to allow Network Sharing for Incentivising Very High Capacity Networks: Another positive for MNOs and indeed fixed broadband providers as we head into 2022 is the regulatory shift away from pure competition law, brought about by the new European Electronic Communications Code (“EECC”). The implementation date for the EECC was 21 December 2020 and it is the most important reg- ulatory change in the EU for some time, so merits particular attention for the remainder of this overview article.
The European Electronic Communications Code ( “EECC”)
On 11 December 2018, the European Commission published the new Directive establishing the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) in order to revise and update the current EU communications regulatory framework.
The EECC merges and updates the existing Framework Directive, Authorisation Directive, Access Directive and Universal Service Direc- tive (being the four main Directives of the current regulatory frame- work). The EECC should be considered in association with the BEREC Regulation, which formalises BEREC as a fully-fledged EU Communi- cations Regulatory Agency with broader powers.
This new legal framework is of utmost importance for the communi- cations sector and has as a number of core objectives including: (i) fa- cilitation of the roll-out of high capacity networks throughout Europe;
(ii) consumer protection; (iii) new regulation of OTTs; and (iv) efficient use of spectrum.
Notwithstanding the BEREC Regulation, the emphasis of regulation and enforcement still rests largely in the hands of the Member States.
Summary of the Key Changes and Objectives of the EECC
The following is a short summary of the above four core objectives, which will be covered in more detail further on in this Chapter.
Incentivising very high capacity networks: The EECC is intended to make it easier for telecoms providers investing in 5G and very high capac- ity fixed infrastructure to fulfil their business plans and investment objectives. A key difference to help achieve this is a shift from the pure competition law-based approach to regulating network roll-out and instead focussing upon the infrastructure layer and encouraging co-investment. The thinking is that if the new regulatory approach will provide potentially higher returns for investors, this would in turn fa- cilitate the roll-out of high capacity networks.
Regulation of OTTs: Traditional telecoms providers will be pleased that the EECC also widens the definition of electronic communications service, to include certain internet phone and messaging services within the scope of telecoms regulation. The intention is to help level the playing field for competition, so for those services which will now be subject to telecoms regulation for the first time, this will represent a significant change.
Consumer Protection: Consumers are to benefit from a whole series of
measures, including Mobile and Fixed Termination Rates (“Union-wide voice termination rates”). This should not be confused with the 19 euro cents (+VAT) cap on the retail cost of international calls within the EU for consumers effective as of 15 May 2019, already in force under The Roaming Regulation.
Efficient Use of Spectrum: This will include new “use it or leave it” provi- sions, simplifying and harmonising spectrum licence conditions and providing a minimum 20-year licence period for wireless broadband service provision.
Other areas addressed by the EECC
1. Licensing – simplification to general authorisation by means of a basic notification process2. Universal Service Obligations – to include affordable and adequate broadband internet service3. Numbering – to include allocations to non ECS/ECN providers4. Porting – gaining pro- vider carrier switching (of most relevance in the UK)5. Network secu- rity and resilience
Despite the excitement and potential, basic connectivity even in the UK needs to be addressed
Yet for all this incredible growth connecting the planet’s population to the internet, my particular UK mobile operator still has ‘Not Spots’
in central London with no coverage at all, whilst many areas of rural Britain remain without coverage by all or indeed any of the UK mobile networks. This is particularly problematic in the absence of national roaming, given the reliance on mobile connectivity, such as for naviga- tion or simply working from home in the absence of fixed broadband.
The poor mobile connectivity in the UK has been viewed by many as a failure by Ofcom. Over recent years, the UK Government has seized the initiative from Ofcom and has sought to address mobile coverage through DCMS Infrastructure Reviews. This resulted in a £1bn deal with the MNOs designed to eliminate ‘Not Spots’ and the work of the National Infrastructure Commission.
In 2022 we can look forward to an increasing number of successful and innovative IoT deployments, especially given the improvements in mobile broadband connectivity and the staggering amount of invest- ment being ploughed into AI and IoT companies more broadly.
Let’s hope we will during 2022 be witness to a significant take up of satellite internet connectivity being provided by the various consortia, especially in the areas of the world with no fixed or mobile broadband.
On the regulatory front, the reimposition of roaming charges will be a reminder (painful perhaps) of the UK no longer being strictly bound by EU Regulations and it will be interesting to see to what extent the UK regulatory position diverges from the EU.
The EECC implementation marks a distinct shift away from a pure competition law approach to the regulation of the telecoms industry.
Coupled with the recent 4 to 3 MNO merger clearances, we would expect to see significant industry mergers and infrastructure sharing deals being completed and cleared in the race to roll out 5G and fixed high capacity broadband connectivity throughout the EU.
And finally, telecoms deals over the years have traditionally been struck at or made thanks to conversations at the major internation- al telecoms conferences, so the resumption of executives attending these conferences in person, will hopefully stimulate further interest- ing developments to be reported on next year.
Band 1 Ashurst
What the team is known for Recognised focus on corporate and commercial transactions in the tele- coms space, including the development of new infra- structure assets or the procurement of capacity by non-traditional telecoms clients. Demonstrates addi- tional experience in competition law appeals against Ofcom decisions. Further noted for expertise in reg- ulatory, commercial and financing matters in African jurisdictions.
Strengths “We have been extremely happy with the sound work and timely, thorough advice,” one client asserts, adding: “The Ashurst team is always approachable and has the commercial awareness required to help us achieve contractual agreements in line with our business needs.”
Another client says: “Ashurst provided seamless, cohesive and practical advice which allowed us to move quickly to negotiate and implement the transaction.”
Interviewees comment that the team “has excellent subject matter knowledge and gives insightful obser- vations.”
Work highlights Advised Facebook on contractual arrangements for its 2Africa project to build a tel- ecoms cable to provide high-capacity connectivity between Africa, Europe and the Middle East.
Nick Elverston continues to command respect in the telecommunications market due to his exper- tise in transactional, commercial and regulatory matters. His enviable client base includes network providers, mobile phone operators and significant social media and technology companies. “The man is
a legend when it comes to telecoms – he’s sharp as a razor blade and incredibly commercially astute.” “He’s a shrewd negotiator who is able to draw on his signif- icant expertise to deliver good results quickly.” “Nick is a heavyweight in terms of delivering concise advice and managerial support to ensure projects are com- pleted on time. His standout industry knowledge and personal communication skills make him a pleasure to work with.” Amanda Hale routinely handles regula- tory mandates relating to large telecoms infrastruc- ture projects. She is equally adept at advising on infrastructure projects, network rollouts and various commercial arrangements. “She has a deep knowl- edge of the telecommunications industry and a busi- ness-oriented mind.” “Amanda is a telecoms expert who has an excellent knowledge of the sector and the
issues that can crop up around the market.”
What the team is known for Handles significant commercial agreements on behalf of traditional telecoms companies and major international reg- ulatory mandates for OTT and digital service pro- viders. London office coordinates global teams to advise on changes in the data protection regulatory environment and on the differing treatment of tele- coms services between local regulators in European and global jurisdictions. Benefits from close ties to leading UK telecoms operators that require assis- tance with diverse commercial mandates, including the negotiation of network sharing agreements or transformation of telecoms networks to make use of cloud services.
Strengths “Baker McKenzie provides excellent client service,” one client notes, adding: “They give timely and precise legal advice and combine this with a prac- tical view of how it will impact company business.”
Another client states: “They’re incredibly responsive and go above and beyond in providing high-quality work to tight deadlines.”
Interviewees remark: “They give down-to-earth advice and are adept at navigating the challenges of emerging markets work.”
Steve Holmes frequently represents significant telecoms clients in commercial matters, including advising on regulatory implications of transactions.
His enviable client base consists primarily of inter- national communications companies and financial institutions. Robbie Downing is highlighted for his international regulatory expertise in the telecommu- nications sector. He assists clients with risk assess- ments and privacy reviews, as well as issues that sit at the intersection of telecoms and IT services. Alex Lumley is an associate in the tech and commercial team at Baker McKenzie. He primarily advises on commercial and regulatory issues impacting the tel- ecommunications industry. “Alex is very informed and responsive to our needs.”
Bird & Bird
What the team is known for Maintains a commanding position in the UK telecoms landscape, advising on contentious and non-contentious regulatory and transactional issues. Possesses a large team of cor- porate, commercial and telecoms regulatory lawyers who serve a diverse client list that includes managed network and data centre service providers. Coor- dinates global regulatory mandates among group offices and with external local counsel to provide OTT service providers with an analysis of regulatory risks in different jurisdictions. Frequently involved in telecoms projects related to the rollout of 5G.
Strengths “Their work is absolutely top notch,” one client remarks, adding: “I particularly appreciate their ability to coordinate work across a variety of jurisdic- tions.”
Another client says: “They understand our needs, interests and how the nuances of the law need to be translated into business realities.”
Work highlights Defended Nokia against a European Commission complaint brought by Daimler con- cerning royalties for technology used in navigation systems, vehicle communications and self-driving Band 1
Brisby Paul Towerhouse LLP Conradi Mike DLA Piper LLP * Elverston Nick Ashurst Levine Tom Allen & Overy LLP Maguire Graeme Bird & Bird Watson Chris CMS
Wheeler Joanne Alden Legal Limited Band 2
Bratby Robert Bratby Law (ORL) ◊ * Brown Alexander Simmons & Simmons LLP Good Natasha Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer * Hale Amanda Ashurst
Holmes Steve Baker McKenzie
Hulsmann Jenine Weil, Gotshal & Manges (London) (ORL) ◊ Preiskel Daniel Preiskel & Co LLP
Stewart David Towerhouse LLP Band 3
Blythe Stuart Baker Botts UK LLP (ORL) ◊ Coulling David Herbert Smith Freehills Crick Toby Bristows LLP *
Cunningham-Day Julian Linklaters Downing Robbie Baker McKenzie Fell Jon Osborne Clarke LLP * Moir Gordon Wiggin LLP (ORL) ◊ Mullenex Diane Pinsent Masons Pike Richard Constantine Cannon LLP (ORL) ◊ Preiskel Ronnie Preiskel & Co LLP Stacey Oliver D Norton Rose Fulbright Wisking Stephen Herbert Smith Freehills Band 4
Cowen Timothy R.W. Preiskel & Co LLP Finnegan Angus Taylor Wessing (ORL) ◊ Fleury Joachim Clifford Chance LLP Hendrikx Ronald M E P Bird & Bird Liberatore Francesco Squire Patton Boggs Norman Richard DLA Piper UK LLP * Stone Paul Charles Russell Speechlys Walsh James Fieldfisher White Aaron Herbert Smith Freehills Worthy John Fieldfisher Wright Emma Deloitte Legal Up-and-coming individuals Kenning Andrew Allen & Overy LLP Associates to watch
Lumley Alex Baker McKenzie Vittala Karthyaeni Preiskel & Co LLP Williams Eleanor Osborne Clarke LLP * Leading Individuals
* Indicates firm / individual with profile.
◊ (ORL) = Other Ranked Lawyer.
Alphabetical order within each band. Band 1 is highest.
Band 1 Ashurst Baker McKenzie Bird & Bird Band 2 Allen & Overy LLP CMS
DLA Piper LLP *
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer * Herbert Smith Freehills Simmons & Simmons LLP Towerhouse LLP Band 3
Charles Russell Speechlys * Clifford Chance LLP * Dentons *
Fieldfisher * Linklaters * Norton Rose Fulbright Osborne Clarke LLP * Preiskel & Co LLP * Band 4
Alden Legal Limited Bristows LLP * Deloitte Legal Pinsent Masons Squire Patton Boggs * Leading Firms Telecommunications
Leading Individuals p.1419
Graeme Maguire advises on both commercial and regulatory issues in the telecoms sector, including key industry issues such as the rollout of 5G. He additionally acts on significant competition and pro- curement mandates. “He is a good strategic thinker with an incredible depth of knowledge and excellent project management skills.” Ronald Hendrikx reg- ularly handles commercial negotiations in the tel- ecoms sector, often regarding infrastructure and IT-related projects. He primarily advises telecoms companies and communication platforms. “Ronald is a trusted telecoms adviser with good insight.”
Allen & Overy LLP
What the team is known for Significant telecoms practice that frequently acts on infrastructure trans- actions in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Advises on the structuring of new fibre optic joint ventures and on both the buy and sell sides of telecoms towers transactions. Assists with the negotiation of network sharing or outsourcing agreements. Broader team leverages corporate and competition law expertise to advise on major M&A deals that follow the trend towards consolidation of the telecoms sector. Also represents clients in satellite finance or capital mar- kets transactions.
Strengths Commentators appreciate the team’s
“good client service and commercial awareness.”
An interviewee reveals: “They’re responsive, prag- matic and demonstrate expertise in telecoms transac- tions.”
One client remarks: “The service was excellent and they had a strong understanding of all commercial matters associated with the transaction.”
Work highlights Assisted Telesat LEO with the nego- tiation of procurement contracts and the financing of its low Earth orbit satellite constellation.
Tom Levine maintains an outstanding reputation for his broad telecoms practice, which encompasses financing and corporate transactions. He has further expertise in satellite project financing. “He’s super efficient, well organised, thinks strategically and is strong on the details of matters.” “Tom is an expert in his field who is able to see matters from the client’s perspective.” Andrew Kenning regularly advises multinational telecommunications companies and infrastructure providers in his role as counsel on the telecommunications, media and technology team at Allen & Overy. He has significant experience assisting clients with commercial acquisitions, dis- posals and financing transactions.
What the team is known for Acclaimed for its han- dling of diverse transactional telecoms matters, including the negotiation of joint ventures to lay new full-fibre networks or fund-driven investments into owners of fibre optic infrastructure assets. Advises established players in the sector on broader capital markets, M&A or data protection mandates. Par- ticularly adept at advising on regulatory aspects of significant projects on both a domestic and an inter- national basis.
Strengths One client comments: “They are able to connect the dots between the legal, commercial and
technical aspects of deals and provide substantive suggestions.”
“The lawyers at CMS are quick, reliable, thorough and commercial,” another client reports.
“The client service is impeccable and the team is prag- matic, commercial and goal-oriented,” interviewees remark.
Work highlights Assisted CityFibre with its £200 million acquisition of FibreNation from TalkTalk, as well as the modification of a commercial deal with Vodafone.
Chris Watson is an extremely well-regarded tele- communications lawyer who possesses considerable expertise in the field. He frequently provides com- mercial and regulatory advice to a varied client base including telecoms companies, network operators and financial institutions.
DLA Piper LLP See profile on p.1583
What the team is known for Enjoys a superb repu- tation for advice on all aspects of submarine cable projects, including the drafting of construction and procurement contracts, as well as the analysis of compliance risks in developing markets. Advises clients on MVNO network transfers, as well as the outsourcing of network management responsibili- ties for operators with subsidiaries in Asian, African and European markets. Has a well-regarded disputes practice that often handles arbitration and litigation relating to the early termination of international tele- coms service contracts.
Strengths One client remarks: “The DLA Piper team is responsive, pragmatic and has up-to-date knowledge of what is happening in the market.”
Another client praises the team’s “deep industry expertise,” in addition to lauding the firm’s lawyers for being “very engaging and commercially sharp.”
Work highlights Assisted Polhem Infra with various aspects of its acquisition of Telia Carrier from Telia Company, including regulatory concerns and the transition of services.
Mike Conradi (see p.1419) possesses significant experience in relation to regulatory and commercial issues affecting the telecommunications sector. His varied expertise includes assisting on infrastructure developments and subsea cable projects, as well as advising service providers on licensing issues. “He is a good practitioner who has impressive knowledge and the flexibility to adapt as deals progress and change.”
“Mike is very personable and has deep industry exper- tise.” Richard Norman (see p.932) is highly regarded for his expertise in relation to the resolution of tel- ecommunications disputes. He frequently advises on court proceedings and arbitrations concerning data protection and contractual matters. “He shows a great desire to ensure the happiness and satisfaction of the client.” “He is experienced, knowledgeable and gets to the crux of issues quickly.”
Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer See profile on p.1619
What the team is known for Handles high-end corporate and commercial telecoms transactions, including tower infrastructure deals and joint ven- tures between major European telecoms operators.
Acts for household names in the telecoms sector on advisory mandates that cross over between compe- tition law and telecoms regulatory issues. Also rec-
ommended for commercial disputes, including court proceedings and international arbitrations.
Strengths Clients are impressed by the fact that
“even complex international issues can be assessed and clarified at short notice.”
Work highlights Acted for Deutsche Telekom on an UNCITRAL BIT arbitration against the Government of India concerning the cancellation of an agreement for a long-term satellite capacity and spectrum lease.
Natasha Good (see p.1419) draws praise from market commentators for her expertise in M&A transactions in the telecoms arena, where she acts for a number of household names.
Herbert Smith Freehills
What the team is known for Enjoys a longstanding reputation among UK telecoms operators as a superb choice for both contentious and non-conten- tious matters. Widely regarded as a leading litigation firm with experience both in commercial disputes between operators and in CAT or judicial review challenges to Ofcom decisions. Acclaimed for work on major infrastructure sharing agreements and the negotiation of wholesale MVNO agreements.
Strengths One commentator praises the team for being “timely, commercially minded and reliable.”
Another interviewee remarks on the firm’s “client-ori- ented approach.”
Work highlights Advised Bharti Global and its con- sortium with the UK government on its acquisition of OneWeb, in connection with its US court-supervised Chapter 11 sale process.
David Coulling advises prominent telecoms compa- nies and network providers on various commercial issues. His expertise covers network rollout and upgrade arrangements, as well as M&A transactions.
“He’s approachable and always seems to find time to take a call or respond to a random request. He has a proactive, pragmatic and commercial approach to what are often complex, challenging and politically sensitive issues.” Stephen Wisking frequently handles com- plex competition mandates in the telecoms sector, ranging from abuse of dominant position proceed- ings to challenges to Ofcom decisions. “He is very knowledgeable and a really good litigator.” “Stephen is really good at understanding the core issue, getting to the bottom of it and being very firm in his advice.”
Aaron White provides regulatory and commercial advice to a wide client base consisting of service providers, private equity firms and equipment man- ufacturers. “His advice is particularly valuable for its pragmatism.”
Simmons & Simmons LLP
What the team is known for Possesses an impressive reputation for advice on the tension between data protection regulations and the monetisation of data by telecoms operators. Offers broader experience in diverse matters ranging from the negotiation of telecoms service contracts and distribution agree- ments through to regulatory compliance mandates.
Also advises on contentious commercial matters in the telecoms arena. Well versed in advising service providers on issues related to 5G rollout, including patent applications and equipment procurement. A culture of secondments of junior and senior lawyers helps nurture close relationships with clients.
Strengths “The team is responsive and understands our business well,” one client remarks.
Work highlights Assisted O2 in defending against a claim brought by Carphone Warehouse concerning alleged breaches of a trading agreement signed in 2012 in relation to tariffs and customer data.
Alexander Brown possesses significant knowledge of data protection and cybersecurity issues in the telecoms sphere, as well as contractual and out- sourcing matters. His clients include network pro- viders and telecoms hardware companies. “He is a pragmatic and proactive lawyer.”
What the team is known for Highly regarded bou- tique specialising in telecoms regulatory matters.
Has acted for various parties in CMA, CAT and Court of Appeal challenges to Ofcom decisions on dark fibre, annual licence fees and spectrum auctions.
Advises on compliance with EU telecoms regulation and defends major operators and smaller telecoms service providers in Ofcom investigations and market reviews. Recommended for policymaking and con- sultation exercises.
Strengths “The firm’s advice is well founded, prag- matic and focused on the commercial aspects of the regulatory or contractual issues,” an impressed client reveals.
An additional commentator observes: “Towerhouse combines mastery of the relevant law with a strategic understanding of the telecoms market.”
Work highlights Represented Vodafone in success- fully appealing a judicial review and restitution dis- pute over spectrum licence fees.
Paul Brisby frequently handles prominent compe- tition and regulatory telecoms mandates and has a particular aptitude for price control matters. “He knows what he needs to look out for and will help us to understand the work that needs doing.” “Paul is a formidably experienced and knowledgeable lawyer.”
David Stewart receives praise for his experience in competition and regulatory matters in the telecom- munications space. “David Stewart has deep regula- tory, strategic and analytical knowledge.”
Charles Russell Speechlys See profile on p.1551
What the team is known for Wins roles in major con- tentious regulatory mandates owing to close links to key telecoms operators in the UK. Has a strong presence in the Middle East, with proven experience both in commercial agreements between telecoms companies and in commercial or regulatory disputes for a varied client list that includes private companies and regulatory authorities. Additionally equipped to advise on M&A transactions in the sector. Possesses further capabilities in advising on issues related to the Electronic Communications Code.
Strengths Clients praise the team for being “agile and commercial in its thinking.”
Work highlights Assisted Parkson Mobile with var- ious aspects of the establishment of an exclusive English distributor of VIVO mobile, including immi- gration compliance and the negotiation of service and maintenance contracts.
Paul Stone possesses recognisable expertise in competition law issues in the telecoms sector. He
regularly advises clients on international telecoms infrastructure transactions and CAT proceedings relating to Ofcom decisions.
Clifford Chance LLP See profile on p.1555
What the team is known for Leading destination for European M&A transactions carried out by infra- structure investors and major telecoms operators.
Advises on the complex competition law issues arising from mergers in an already heavily consol- idated market. Also assists with the structuring of fibre optic cabling joint ventures and plays an impor- tant role in standalone regulatory mandates for leading UK operators.
Strengths “The firm is sensitive to the commercial needs of clients,” one source observes.
Another interviewee notes: “The team’s strength is its ability to handle the forensic work and really get into the details on matters.”
Work highlights Acted for Telefonica on its joint ven- ture with Liberty Global to combine the UK opera- tions of O2 and Virgin Media.
Joachim Fleury demonstrates longstanding exper- tise in transactions in the telecoms field. He is par- ticularly adept at advising clients on competition and commercial matters.
See profile on p.1579
What the team is known for Well placed to provide comprehensive regulatory support to global tele- coms companies with operations in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa owing to an extensive network of Dentons group offices and close working relationships with other local teams. Stands out for activity on the procurement of telecoms services for UK public sector clients. Demonstrates additional expertise in diverse commercial mandates for pri- vate companies, including the agreement of satellite communications service contracts, as well as the financing and development of infrastructure projects and mobile networks in Africa.
Strengths “Dentons provides a wonderful service,”
an impressed client reveals, adding: “The lawyers are very attentive and offer a value-for-money service.”
Work highlights Advised IoT startup floLIVE on a range of regulatory and commercial matters, including international roaming restrictions and MVNO contracts.
Notable practitioners Fieldfisher See profile on p.1608
What the team is known for Advises on network sharing initiatives, outsourcing arrangements and network infrastructure projects, encompassing issues ranging from 5G to software implementation.
Assists public sector clients with issues relating to the procurement of nationwide communications services. Key partners have additional experience advising on commercial and regulatory aspects of satellite projects. Solid data protection offering ena- bles the team to advise telecoms technology and sat- ellite companies on industry-specific GDPR issues.
Strengths “I am highly impressed with Fieldfisher’s level of professional engagement and proactivity in helping us to achieve our business goals,” one client reveals.
“Their knowledge of the telecoms sector is great and
they give pragmatic advice,” another client reports.
Work highlights Assisted EE with the negotiation of a ten-year deal to upgrade its infrastructure to sup- port 5G services.
James Walsh frequently advises network operators and commercial telecoms services users on an array of issues. His experience spans data protection and regulatory issues, as well as corporate acquisitions.
“His biggest strength is his ability to balance business risk with legal risk and offer pragmatic advice.” “He highlights the commercial and legal risks on transac- tions and couples those with practical solutions.” John Worthy frequently advises on various aspects of sat- ellite projects, with a particular focus on regulatory, procurement and contractual issues.
Linklaters See profile on p.1701
What the team is known for Leverages well-estab- lished capacity to handle high-value M&A, capital markets and corporate restructuring transactions to win roles on significant deals in the telecoms sector. Acts on telecoms infrastructure transactions for operators in Africa and the Middle East. Further proven capabilities in contentious regulatory matters for major UK telecoms operators. Particularly adept at handling data protection mandates.
Strengths “Linklaters make light work of complex matters,” one impressed client reveals, adding: “The team is proactive and has strong technical skills.”
Another client praises the firm for its “good industry knowledge and understanding of our priorities.”
Work highlights Advised CK Hutchinson on the sale of its European telecommunications tower assets to Cellnex for EUR10 billion.
Julian Cunningham-Day is particularly well versed in advising on the commercial aspects of telecommu- nications matters. He is also highly regarded for his regulatory expertise and regularly advises on both national and international matters. “Julian is intelli- gent, knowledgeable, personable and committed.”
Norton Rose Fulbright
What the team is known for Particularly strong with regard to commercial, corporate and financing trans- actions in the telecoms space, including high-profile partnership agreements in support of infrastruc- ture projects. Acts for lenders and borrowers on the agreement of new corporate or project finance facilities. Enjoys a strong reputation for work on infrastructure transactions across Africa, principally concerning telecoms towers. Also handles global regulatory compliance projects. Additionally repre- sents telecoms clients in High Court proceedings and international arbitrations.
Strengths “Norton Rose Fulbright were fundamental in driving our transaction to a quick and efficient com- pletion,” one client reveals, adding that the team has a “great depth of sector experience and knowledge.”
Another client says: “The team has excellent legal skills and is also very quick and responsive.”
Work highlights Assisted Orange with its EUR268 million acquisition of a controlling stake in Telekom Romania Communications from OTE.
Oliver Stacey advises on acquisitions and financ- ings in the telecoms sector, particularly those with international elements. “Oliver Stacey is thorough, meticulous, accessible and commercial.” “Oliver has
great sector knowledge, is commercial and offers clear advice.” “He’s pragmatic, precise and keen to find bal- anced solutions.”
Osborne Clarke LLP See profile on p.1747
What the team is known for Noted as a key player in developing areas of telecoms regulation, including questions relating to data privacy, the Internet of Things and the treatment of OTT service providers.
Advises key operator clients on contentious and non-contentious topics relating to the installation of telecoms apparatus and the application of the new Electronic Communications Code. Recent work has seen an increase in transactional mandates ranging from telecoms services procurement through to M&A deals and financings related to telecoms infra- structure projects.
Strengths One client describes the lawyers at Osborne Clarke as “responsive, pragmatic in negotia- tions and knowledgeable about the sector.”
“The team provides swift, pragmatic and cost-effective advice,” another client reveals.
Work highlights Assisted Vodafone with its nego- tiation of a five-year MVNO partnership with Asda Mobile.
Jon Fell (see p.1419) offers expertise in commercial and transactional telecoms matters as well as pro- curement issues. He regularly represents service providers and network operators. “Jon is diligent, precise with his advice and commercially aware. He seamlessly moves between black-letter legal advice and commercial realities.” “He brings great expertise and technical knowledge to telecoms-related trans- actions.” Associate director Eleanor Williams (see p.1419) focuses her practice on advising clients on contractual and procurement issues. She is also experienced in assisting with data protection and Electronic Communications Code regulatory mat- ters. “Eleanor is highly responsive and efficient on con- tract drafting. She suggests practical and workable solutions for the complicated elements of deals and is keen to produce the best outcome possible.” “She is smart and able to quickly pick up and run with a piece of work.”
Preiskel & Co LLP See profile on p.1767
What the team is known for Boutique firm cele- brated for its understanding of the telecoms regula- tory landscape in the UK and abroad. Recommended for all manner of commercial and corporate trans- actions, including network sharing agreements and supply contracts. Sought after by public and private sector clients around the world. Also noted for rep- resenting clients in appeals against Ofcom deci- sions. Additionally demonstrates expertise in issues relating to the Internet of Things and machine-to- machine technology.
Strengths “Preiskel & Co are responsive, practical and have a good understanding of the industry,” one client reports, adding: “They talk about the commercial real- ities, not just their legal knowledge.”
Another client comments: “They are always available and perform tasks in a timely manner.”
Interviewees praise the team for being “commercially aware and constructive.”
Work highlights Advised IXAfrica on a USD13.5 mil- lion fundraising to launch and establish East Africa’s largest hypercloud-ready campus in Kenya.
Daniel Preiskel is highly regarded within the market for his expertise in relation to M&A transactions and regulatory issues within the sector. He frequently acts for telecoms companies and network oper- ators. “Daniel delivers sensible advice and cost-ef- fective solutions. He has a deep knowledge of the telecoms industry and a wealth of M&A experience.”
“He has the commercial acumen and market knowl- edge to get straight to the point on telecoms matters.”
“Daniel is incredibly intelligent and commercially savvy.” Ronnie Preiskel is well versed in advising on M&A transactions, including the acquisition, sale and restructuring of telecommunications compa- nies. “He provides very measured advice and always is available when needed.” Timothy Cowen is noted for possessing significant expertise in relation to competition and regulatory issues in the telecom- munications field. Karthyaeni Vittala is an associate in the telecoms team at Preiskel & Co and has a strong corporate practice. She primarily assists ser- vice providers and other telecoms companies with general corporate and commercial issues. “She was extremely hard-working and efficient in managing a complex transaction through to completion.” “She’s very diligent, dedicated and delivers advice in a timely manner.”
Alden Legal Limited
What the team is known for Respected telecoms team with noted strength in the space sector. Reg- ularly represents satellite manufacturers and operators, as well as launch sites and aerospace companies. Adept at advising on a range of commer- cial and regulatory matters in the sector, including spectrum issues, strategic collaborations and net- work infrastructure rollouts.
Strengths One client states: “The team was extremely knowledgeable on the commercial side of the space sector and very supportive in ensuring we understood their recommendations and advice.”
“They’re responsive, have a no-nonsense approach and understand business demands,” another client reveals.
Work highlights Advised Spaceport Cornwall on the legal and regulatory requirements for building, licensing and operating a horizontal spaceport.
Joanne Wheeler is regarded as pre-eminent in the space and satellite sector due to her considerable knowledge of regulatory and commercial issues.
“Joanne is approachable, helpful and extremely knowl- edgeable in the space sector. She’s also very thorough in her investigations and has particularly strong atten- tion to detail.” “Her knowledge of regulatory issues and market practice blows me away every time.” “Joanne gives practical, straightforward and high-quality advice.”
Bristows LLP See profile on p.1530
What the team is known for Noted for particular strength in IP litigation and the licensing of telecoms SEPs. Handles cross-border regulatory and com- pliance matters that examine the treatment of OTT service providers and sensitive issues of data protec- tion law. Assists with the procurement of telecoms services on a domestic or an international basis. Also
handles commercial contracts for telecoms services on behalf of clients, including network services and outsourcing supply contracts.
Strengths “They are extremely level-headed in their development of strategies and have the ability to take the pressure of litigation,” one interviewee remarks, adding: “They like to roll their sleeves up and get involved in all aspects of the case.”
One client reports the team is “very knowledgeable and responsive.”
Another client praises the Bristows team for its
“global strategic thinking, expertise and knowledge.”
Work highlights Advised myGaru Technologies on the development, launch and rollout of a new tech- nology platform that utilises user databases in the sector for adtech initiatives.
Toby Crick (see p.971) is a recognised telecoms practitioner who handles both regulatory and trans- actional mandates. He is especially well regarded for providing expert commercial advice to regulatory authorities. “He is good at building relationships, has good contacts in the industry and has the right level of legal and commercial skills.”
What the team is known for Technology law prac- tice offering notable expertise in procurement, data protection, cybersecurity and regulatory matters.
Advises on the application of EU and UK financial ser- vices regulation to mobile payment models, including as part of new product releases. Assists with inter- national digital services projects for infrastructure providers. Equipped to advise public bodies, as well as established telecoms operators.
Strengths One client notes: “They demonstrate a good understanding of our business and are fully aware of the commercial implications of their advice.”
Work highlights Assisted BT with compliance issues in relation to the implementation of the Off Payroll Working Rules, including redrafting supplier agree- ments to reflect the new rules.
Emma Wright is frequently called upon by telecoms operators, equipment manufacturers and online companies to provide advice on a range of issues.
Her expertise covers regulatory, data protection and cybersecurity issues, among other matters. “She has tremendous commercial acumen and delivers what her clients want in a user-friendly format.” “She is commer- cial, pragmatic and works well with non-lawyers.” “As well as a vast knowledge of contract law, Emma has an impressive understanding of the nature of telecoms services and the contractual frameworks required to provide them.”
What the team is known for Stands out for advice to major public sector clients, including UK and for- eign government departments. Highly regarded for in-depth knowledge of regulatory issues on a national and international level, especially across Europe and the Middle East. Acts on either side of procurement processes in support of communications initiatives for the healthcare, road infrastructure and energy sectors. Also handles regulatory disputes, including the serving of notices under the Electronic Commu- nications Code.
Strengths Clients note that the team is “knowledge- able, thorough and able to work to tight deadlines.”
An interviewee reveals: “They’re knowledgeable,
calm, diligent and maintain cool heads in contentious situations.”
Work highlights Acted for the Department for Dig- ital, Culture, Media and Sport on its Shared Rural Network deal with four mobile providers to improve mobile coverage across the UK.
Diane Mullenex receives praise for her ability to handle regulatory matters in the telecoms space, with a noteworthy focus on Middle Eastern regula- tory regimes. She is also recognised for providing expert advice on data protection and cybersecurity issues. “She is dedicated, responsive and results-ori- ented.”
Squire Patton Boggs See profile on p.1810
What the team is known for Brings together EU competition law, public law and telecoms regulatory expertise between core teams in London and Wash- ington, DC. Handles standalone advisory matters that review and inform public policy on the regulation of the telecoms sector worldwide. Acts for a varied client list that includes government bodies, trade associations, satellite telecoms operators and OTT service providers.
Work highlights Advised the Communications Regu- latory Authority of Qatar on its communications reg- ulatory and licensing framework.
Francesco Liberatore focuses his practice on compe- tition and regulatory law issues impacting telecom- munications companies and regulatory bodies. He is adept at advising clients on both domestic and cross- border matters.
Other Ranked Lawyers
Stuart Blythe specialises in corporate and commer- cial telecoms transactions that often have interna- tional elements. His recent work has focused on commercial negotiations concerning the develop- ment of subsea cable systems. “His knowledge is extensive, his insights are unique and he is commer- cially aware, which means that his views and recom- mendations resonate with clients in the reality of their world.” “Stuart is a focused and dedicated lawyer with a strong work ethic. He has a sound eye for detail and risk when drafting commercial contracts.” “He is very effective and has invaluable knowledge and experi- ence in matters pertaining to the global submarine cable industry.”
Robert Bratby (see p.1419) is noted for his signifi- cant knowledge of regulatory and data protection issues affecting the telecoms sector. He is adept at advising on regulatory aspects of significant M&A transactions. “He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of telecommunications law, is commercially astute and invariably ensures all loose ends are tied off.” “He is knowledgeable regarding telecommunications regula- tion and contracts.”
Angus Finnegan frequently advises telecoms pro- viders on regulatory compliance and procurement matters.
Jenine Hulsmann has a strong track record for both commercial transactions and competition mandates in the telecoms sector. She also assists telecoms companies with regulatory investigations. “She has the ability to distil complex concepts into practical advice that is commercially focused.”
Gordon Moir frequently handles regulatory and com- petition law matters for telecoms operators across a variety of jurisdictions.
Richard Pike possesses a great deal of experience in advising telecoms operators on regulatory and licensing issues involving Ofcom. “He is a shrewd liti- gator with a lot of experience.”