Sean Stokes represents clients nationally on a wide range of communications matters, including broadband, cable television, wireless communications, right-of-way management, pole attachments, barriers to community broadband initiatives, and public-private partnerships. He counsels clients in developing and negotiating agreements involving access to poles, ducts, conduits, dark fiber, and towers. He has represented municipal utilities and local governments in complex negotiations developing city-wide fiber-to-the-home networks and wireless small cell siting agreements. He has also assisted in the creation of public-private broadband consortia seeking federal and state broadband funding.
Sean has advised clients in numerous cases involving complex factual, legal, and policy issues, multiple parties, and large amounts in controversy. His clients include national and state utility associations, municipal leagues, and numerous public and private entities throughout the United States (U.S.). He collaborates with multi-disciplinary teams of legal, financial, engineering, and other technical experts, assisting clients in making comprehensive telecommunications and broadband plans.
Sean has authored numerous industry publications and is the principal author of an extensive guidebook and a model pole attachment agreement for the American Public Power Association (APPA), which assists approximately 2,000 public power utilities. He is frequently invited to speak at industry conferences and has recently presented on topics such as community broadband, small cell, pole attachments, and public-private partnerships.
Sean's extensive career experience includes counseling clients at a boutique Washington, DC telecommunications law firm, as well as Associate General Counsel for the Utilities Technologies Council (UTC), where he helped develop and implement the legislative and regulatory strategy of the nation’s electric, gas, and water utilities regarding the adoption and implementation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
- Developed strategies and negotiated dozens of agreements relating to infrastructure siting, acquisition, and leasing, including pole attachments, conduit leases, dark fiber leases and indefeasible rights of use (IRUs), and wireless facilities siting
- Developed and helped implement legal, regulatory, and legislative strategies to remove barriers to broadband entry
- Negotiated public-private broadband partnerships
- Successfully assisted clients in obtaining federal broadband funding and complying with federal program grant obligations
- Negotiated network operating agreement between private broadband provider and electric cooperatives
- Negotiated and helped create a broadband consortium to seek federal and state broadband funding
- Represented a major utility trade association before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and in the appeal of the FCC’s Small Cell Wireless Order before the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, City of Portland vs. United States, 969 F.3d 1020 (9th Cir. 2020)
- Assisted a mid-size capital city in successfully developing, negotiating, and implementing a complex, innovative wireless right-of-way siting ordinance that ultimately had the support of both the wireless industry and the civic association
- Brought successful petitions to FCC on behalf of two public power utilities to preempt state laws that posed barriers to municipal broadband initiatives (FCC decision subsequently overturned for lack of preemptive authority)
- Assisted clients with federal communications regulatory compliance requirements
- Won a large federal jury verdict for a small cable operator against national cable TV provider for violating Florida’s deceptive and unfair trade practices laws
- Negotiated cable television and wireline and wireless telecommunications franchises and other agreements affecting the public right-of-way
- Assisted small new cable TV operators with acquiring access to television and cable programming
- American Bar Association (ABA)
- Electric Cooperative Bar Association (ECBA)
- National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA)
- AV Preeminent® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell