Howard J. Symons is a partner in the Communications, Internet & Technology Practice. He has more than 40 years of experience in telecommunications law and policy, including senior positions in government and the private sector. Before joining the firm in 2017, he served in two high-profile roles at the Federal Communications Commission: as general counsel from 2016 to 2017 and as vice-chair of the FCC’s Incentive Auction Task Force from 2014 to 2016. He was appointed to both posts by Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Highly regarded throughout the industry, Mr. Symons has represented companies in the cable, wireless and telecommunications industries as well as their trade associations before the FCC, Congress and State legislatures, and the courts. Mr. Symons advised these companies on a wide range of matters, including video, broadband and telephony.
As general counsel of the FCC, Mr. Symons oversaw more than 60 lawyers that provide legal support for the Commission’s policy and rulemaking activities and recommend decisions in adjudicatory matters. He also served as one of Chairman Wheeler’s four senior advisors. As vice chair of the Incentive Auction Task Force, he was one of the primary architects of the first incentive auction: a two-sided auction in which broadcasters bid to give up their spectrum and wireless providers bid to buy it.
From 1985 to 2014, Mr. Symons was a partner at another AmLaw 100 firm, chairing that firm’s communications practice and serving as a member of the Policy (Executive) Committee. From 1981 to 1985, he served as senior counsel to the Subcommittee on Telecommunications in the US House of Representatives; in that role, he was responsible for developing legislation on matters ranging from domestic telephone policy to cable franchising and international telecommunications.
Mr. Symons also served as an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s National Law Center, where he taught courses in telecommunications law and regulation for 10 years. He has authored several articles on the telecommunications policy process, testified before Congress and state legislatures, and spoken at numerous industry conferences and continuing legal education seminars on topics relating to regulatory trends, the FCC and more.