Ian Forbes

Ian Forbes

Of Counsel

Ian Forbes is a member of DLA Piper's Telecommunications practice. He has extensive experience advising clients on regulatory, licensing, and transactional matters at the state and federal levels, including before public utility commissions and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Ian's practice covers a wide range of issues across the communications and technology sectors, but in particular he has represented clients on mergers and acquisitions, broadband deployment funding issues, license transfers or assignments, spectrum acquisitions, and enforcement matters before the FCC. 

In this role, Ian advises clients before federal and state regulatory authorities. He assisted in securing federal and state regulatory approvals for the merger of two of the largest mobile network operators in the US (T-Mobile and Sprint). As part of that effort, he drafted various regulatory filings and coordinated the submission of highly confidential filings and data productions at the FCC, as well as the review of third-party documents and data productions. Most recently, Ian helped secure regulatory approvals from the FCC and over a dozen state public utility commissions for the sale of a nationwide enterprise services provider, including drafting regulatory filings and interfacing with federal and state regulators. Ian also has helped clients perform regulatory due diligence for transactions involving the transfer of telecommunications licenses and advised them on how to obtain the required federal and state approvals to effectuate the transfer of such licenses. 

Ian has substantial knowledge and expertise regarding federal and state broadband deployment funding opportunities and has assisted clients with auction participation, regulatory compliance, and related enforcement proceedings. He also has considerable insight into current regulatory issues impacting wireless providers as a result of working with clients on spectrum policy and public safety issues, as well as legal issues facing both established and nascent wireline providers. Ian works closely with the group’s engineering services team to provide clients with legal advice and advocacy that integrates engineering analysis and technical arguments.

Before returning to DLA Piper, Ian served as a lead lawyer on the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction, which awarded more than $9 billion in universal service funding. In this role, Ian provided recommendations to FCC senior leadership regarding auction rules and the pre- and post-auction review process, drafted decisional documents, coordinated engineering and financial review teams, and managed a team of more than a dozen lawyers and engineers. He also oversaw the day-to-day operations of the FCC's other high-cost universal service programs (Connect America Fund Phase II, Uniendo a Puerto Rico/Connect USVI Funds, and the Rural Broadband Experiments).

Prior to his first stint at DLA Piper, Ian spent five years in various positions in the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. Ian's primary areas of experience were universal service and broadband deployment, with a particular focus on high-cost and contributions issues. He worked on reform and implementation matters stemming from the FCC's 2011 Universal Service Fund Transformation Order, including the Connect America Fund (CAF) engineering cost model (CAM), the CAF Phase II auction and various CAF Phase I and Phase II issues involving insular and tribal areas. Ian led the FCC's Rural Broadband Experiments, a program of targeted experiments to gain experience and data to inform policy decisions regarding how to ensure universal access. He also oversaw a team dedicated to contributions issues, including interfacing with the Federal-State Joint Board on universal service for contributions methodology reform, as well as the Universal Service Administrative Company on various contributions policy and audit matters.

Bar admissionsDistrict of ColumbiaMaryland
  • J.D., Catholic University of America
  • B.A., American University


Memberships And Affiliations

  • Federal Communications Bar Association



+1 202 799 4219
(Work, Washington, DC)