Telecoms in Ireland

Mason Hayes & Curran LLP

Mason Hayes & Curran LLP handles some of the most high-profile matters in the Irish telecoms market; in one highlight, the team advised the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg) on a multi-band mobile spectrum auction. The team also provides ongoing advice to telecoms companies on compliance with Irish and European regulations, including acting for multinational companies entering the Irish market. Practice head Michael Madden has more than 20 years’ experience in telecoms regulation, including previously worked in house at ComReg. Frank Flanagan and senior associate Gráinne Morrissey, who has notable expertise in telecoms regulation, are also highly regarded.

Practice head(s):

Michael Madden

Other key lawyers:

Frank Flanagan; Gráinne Morrissey

Testimonials

‘Great Irish telecoms lawyers!’

‘Michael Madden is commercial and responsive.’

‘Michael Madden and Frank Flanagan have developed a tremendous breadth of experience and expertise on telecoms matters. In addition, having worked closely and extremely well with us over many years, the MHC team have a great understanding of not only the applicable regulatory framework, but our internal processes, and their advice and assistance continue to reflect this understanding. The MHC team are highly accessible, pragmatic and solutions-focused in their delivery of services and readily appreciate and respond to the tight time pressures we are constantly under (both internal and external).’

‘The key team members bring quite different but, importantly, highly complementary experience, expertise and perspectives to their advice and assistance. Similarly, they are quick to bring in additional and varied expertise should the need arise. The sheer exposure of the MHC team, and hard-earned contextual understanding, would be extremely difficult to find in another Irish firm.’

‘Michael Madden readily understands our objectives and perspective, contributes extremely well to nuanced policy discussions, and provides a highly accessible, engaging, responsive and no-nonsense primary point of contact between our teams. Frank Flanagan understands complex, technical issues, has superb attention to detail, and provides invaluable advice and assistance in the development and review of more technical matters. The addition of Gráinne Morrissey to the team has not only brought another highly experienced lawyer, but one who also gets us.’

‘This is a team steeped in expertise, knowledge and understanding of what are quite technical matters. The team has demonstrated an ability, over many years now, to harness these skills in a very collaborative way. My sense is that often this team feel just as heavily invested in the matter as our staff do. That is a very important factor in building and maintaining professional relationships. We are fortunate to be engaging with a very excellent practice.’

‘Integrity, dedication, openness, willingness to debate and share points of view, and a strong underlying understanding of spectrum management and economic regulation. These I should say are on top of their very clear and obvious legal skillset. We have been very fortunate to have enjoyed the voice of Frank Flanagan, himself a former engineer who deeply understands the technical matters at play, and Michael Madden, a former economist who has worked in a regulatory environment during his career. Together these gentlemen are a very strong team – knowledgeable, skilful and always available while being heavily invested in us as a client.’

Key clients

Commission for Communications Regulation

Facebook

WhatsApp

SpaceX

Comcast

Verizon Media

Virgin Media

Tata Communications

Sprint Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised ComReg on the design and implementation of its auction of the hugely valuable 700 MHz spectrum band.
  • Advising ComReg on all aspects of the ongoing High Court appeal by Three Mobile concerning the design of ComReg’s 700 MHz auction.

Matheson

Matheson acts for a range of telecoms clients, including fixed and mobile telecoms operators as well as non-traditional operators, in the full gamut of matters in this area. The practice is highly experienced in handling investigations by ComReg as well as litigation against the regulator. Elsewhere, the team advises on compliance with Irish regulations, including competition and state aid issues, and is frequently instructed on corporate transactions involving telecoms companies and assets. The practice is jointly led by Helen Kelly and Kate McKenna. Senior associate Simon Shinkwin advises on regulatory compliance as well as investigations and is well regarded by the team’s clients.

Practice head(s):

Helen Kelly; Kate McKenna

Other key lawyers:

Simon Shinkwin

Testimonials

‘The telecoms team have supported our business on a number of large and complex transactions and have proven that they have the knowledge and the resources to deliver quality results on time and to a high standard in time-critical situations. Kate McKenna and Simon Shinkwin are always available to discuss complex regulatory issues that may arise; they approach these issues in a solution-focused manner and are not afraid to be creative and innovative in their advice. Above any other top-tier corporate firm, we choose this team for their proven industry experience, legal knowledge and, above all else, their commercial acumen and ability to deliver advice that is understandable and digestible by the business.’

‘Kate McKenna is an excellent lawyer and relationship partner. She is reliable and always responsive. She approaches all queries in a pragmatic and commercially focused manner. Simon Shinkwin is also excellent. He has shown very strong technical ability and in-depth knowledge of the law and of the telecoms industry. He is approachable and a safe pair of hands even in the most complex matters. Kate and Simon are always available at the end of the phone or by email to advise on issues that may arise on a day-to-day basis and adopt a reasonable and pragmatic approach to billing.’

‘Apart from their depth of knowledge and experience, Matheson’s telecoms team bring a high degree of emotional intelligence to their work. I cannot recommend them highly enough.’

‘Helen Kelly truly goes above and beyond to achieve her client’s objectives. Kate McKenna has a really impressive ability to successfully navigate complex and sensitive issues.’

‘Helen Kelly is a leader in this field. Exceptionally strong advice commercially with the ability to steer the business in a complex regulatory environment.’

Key clients

Three Ireland and parent CK Hutchison

Sky UK / Sky plc / Sky Ireland

Virgin Media / Liberty Global

Microsoft

AMP Capital

An Post / PostMobile

Speed Fibre Group (Enet, Magnet, Airspeed)

Cisco

Twitter

Facebook / WhatsApp / Instagram

Google

SpaceX

Zoom

Discovery Inc

Amazon

Work highlights

  • Advising Three on high-profile transactions, the ongoing appeal of ComReg’s 5G spectrum auction, which is of critical importance to the Irish mobile market, and a High Court case on universal service obligation funding, including the preliminary reference to the EU courts by the Irish High Court.
  • Advising the Speed Fibre Group on the acquisition of the Magnet business, the restructuring of the group, and a number of regulatory investigations and issues.
  • Advising Virgin Media on investigations by ComReg, including the settlement of such investigations, regulatory issues, transactions and commercial issues.

McCann FitzGerald LLP

McCann FitzGerald LLP is highly active in the telecoms sector, with experience handling both contentious and non-contentious matters. The practice has a particular specialism in advising on the competition elements of transactions such as acquisitions and joint ventures. In the disputes space, Rosaleen Byrne is frequently instructed on matters involving ComReg, acting for the regulator in litigation as well as providing advice to clients facing investigations into alleged non-compliance with regulations. Byrne co-heads the practice alongside regulatory specialist Philip Andrews and corporate partner David Lydon. Laura Treacy returned to the Dublin office from Brussels in 2020 and is another name to note, with a focus on competition law.

Practice head(s):

Philip Andrews; David Lydon; Rosaleen Byrne

Other key lawyers:

Catherine Derrig; Amy Brick

Testimonials

‘Excellent, strategic, responsive and highly informed.’

‘Rosaleen Byrne has significant, in-depth experience of our sector from extensive advice and representation over a decade. She is strategic and effective. Catherine Derrig is a trusted and sought-after adviser for our non-legal in-house colleagues. Amy Brick is very knowledgeable and diligent.’

‘Great experience of regulatory litigation in the telecoms sector, good hindsight and understanding of the client’s constraints, objectives and long-term goals. Provide wise and sound advice.’

‘Very bright and on the ball, Rosaleen Byrne helps you safely navigate the pitfalls of litigation and is there for you. Excellent client service. Catherine Derrig is clear-sighted and has your back – a pleasure to work with.’

‘Approachable. Practical and tailored advice.’

Key clients

ComReg

BBC

Vodafone

BT Communications Ireland Ltd

Cellnex Telecom S.A.

Colony Capital Ireland

Work highlights

  • Advising the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV on the notification of a media merger under the Competition Act 2002 to the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.
  • Providing telecoms infrastructure provider Cellnex with competition and telecoms regulatory advice on its acquisition from CK Hutchison of Three Ireland’s towers business, comprising 2,399 Irish telecoms sites.
  • Advising ComReg on a number of matters in the fixed-line telecoms sector, including acting for the client in a High Court appeal brought by Eircom of decisions made by the client in relation to Eir’s universal service obligations funding applications for the financial years 2010 to 2015.

William Fry

William Fry is noted for its work on the National Broadband Plan, in which it advises the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications on contractual agreements, regulations and competition issues. In addition, the team advises a range of telecoms clients on commercial transactions, such as outsourcings, and regulatory issues related to the development of new products. Claire Waterson leads the practice.

Practice head(s):

Claire Waterson

Testimonials

‘Fantastic team. We work with them regularly and they are very knowledgeable and very easy to work with.’

‘Claire Waterson is very responsive and provides a very high-quality service.’

Key clients

Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications

Horse Racing Ireland

Digicel

Towercom

Work highlights

  • Advising the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications on the rollout of the National Broadband Plan, Ireland’s largest infrastructure project.
  • Advising an international car manufacturer on the telecoms aspects of “connected cars”.
  • Advising Digicel on a range of commercial and digital transformation projects.

A&L Goodbody LLP

A&L Goodbody LLP‘s full-service telecoms practice provides advice to clients in this sector on corporate and commercial transactions, as well as handling litigation such as breach of contract disputes. The team is also engaged to represent companies facing investigations by the ComReg, including acting in appeals of its decisions. The practice is led by John Whelan and John Cahir.

Practice head(s):

John Whelan; John Cahir

Testimonials

‘The ALG team have an inherent understanding of the ever-evolving telecoms sector. They are flexible and commercially minded in their approach to resolving disputes.’

‘John Whelan has a depth of knowledge which is second to none. Not only that, he is responsive and a pleasure to work with.’

Key clients

Digital Europe

Eir Eircom Limited

Eircom UK Limited

Echelon Data Centres

Norton Lifelock Limited

Vertex Inc

Avantcard DAC

Vera Financial Designated Activity Company

Work highlights

  • Advised eir on the reorganisation of its group to split out its masts business from its broader telecoms business into a newly incorporated entity, Emerald TowerCo.
  • Advising eir on its statutory appeal to the Irish High Court against ComReg’s decisions relating to eir’s universal service funding applications from 2010 to 2015.
  • Acting for Vertex Inc and related parties as defendants to proceedings issued by Meridian Global VAT Services in the Irish Commercial Court concerning alleged breach of contract and misuse of confidential information in VAT technology systems.

Arthur Cox

Arthur Cox is highly active in handling corporate transactions involving telecoms companies, acting on both the buy-side and sell-side of deals. Elsewhere in this sector, the team advises on the development of telecoms products as well as on regulatory issues. Key figures in the team include competition specialist Patrick Horan and Aaron Boyle, who focuses on infrastructure. The pair frequently work alongside the wider firm’s M&A and finance lawyers on telecoms matters.

Practice head(s):

Patrick Horan; Aaron Boyle

Testimonials

‘The breath of experience in the team was invaluable. Arthur Cox have partners to cover all areas of a transaction and we didn’t have to go elsewhere for further experienced people.’

‘The telecoms team at Arthur Cox is superb. The range of skills and knowledge is immense. Telecoms is a complex practice area, full of regulation and very niche issues. The team at Arthur Cox take the time to get the know the complexities of the market, the players and the key issues coming down the tracks, and help ideate and problem solve with the client. They also help us with blue sky thinking and issue spotting. As an in-house lawyer, the support is invaluable.’

‘Aaron Boyle’s attention to detail is noteworthy. He has the stamina to survive long, complex project negotiations and the ability to break it down so that we can bring issues back to the business in bite-size chunks – always with solutions.’

‘The Arthur Cox team are excellent at providing advice in a complex and niche area of the law. The telecoms industry is dynamic and there has been much litigation and regulation in the past five years which Arthur Cox have greatly assisted with. They have a multi-disciplinary approach, providing advice across the regulatory, competition, litigation, employment, infrastructure, construction and utilities areas. The specialised knowledge available across these teams makes Arthur Cox a go-to in this industry.’

‘Patrick Horan is an excellent lawyer who provides competition telco advice to us. This is an extremely specialised and complex area and Patrick provides a clear, risk-based analysis in a easily digestible manner.’

Key clients

Aqua Ventures Limited

Avaya

Cellnex

Cubic Telecom

Eir

Enet

Granahan McCourt

Imagine Telecommunications

National Broadband Ireland

Openet

Phoenix Tower International

Strencom

Telus International

Tetra Ireland

Vodafone

Welltel

Work highlights

  • Advised Welltel (Ireland) on all aspects of its private equity investment by Livingbridge.
  • Advising National Broadband Ireland on the legal and regulatory aspects of the implementation of the €3bn National Broadband Plan.
  • Advising eir Business on all aspects of its €80m acquisition of Evros Technology Group, one of Ireland’s leading IT managed services and systems integration specialists.

Eversheds Sutherland

Eversheds Sutherland’s telecoms practice draws on the wider firm’s expertise to advise on matters including the development of telecoms infrastructure, the creation of new telecoms products and commercial agreements in this sector. The practice also provides advice to telecoms companies on employment, IT and data protection issues. Peter Curran leads the team and has extensive experience in this area of law.

Practice head(s):

Peter Curran

Key clients

Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg)

Cicada Exchange

PiPiper

ENET

EirGrid plc

CyrusOne LLC

CSS Holdings, LLC

Webdoctor

Sun Life Financial of Canada

Woebot Labs

Adaptics Limited trading as Drop

Anam Technologies Limited

Blackrock Clinic

Work highlights

  • Acting as CyrusOne’s lead adviser in respect of all its corporate and commercial law dealings.
  • Advising ComReg on various enforcement and dispute resolution matters with major telcos.
  • Advised EirGrid on a contract to provide dark fibre services across the electricity link between Ireland and Wales and all associated internal contractual and regulatory arrangements.