Robert B. Kelly leads the Communications Practice Group. He has more than 35 years of experience in telecommunications, intelligent transportation and technology law and represents a broad clientele of public and private sector interests on a range of issues and transactions before federal and state authorities and courts. Robert advises US and international interests regarding transactional, legislative and regulatory matters and negotiates major transactions involving mergers and acquisitions in the telecommunications industry. He has received numerous honors and recognitions for his work in telecommunications, technology and transportation law, has published scholarly works and speaks frequently at academic and industry fora.

Since 2004, Robert has served as lead counsel to the 800 MHz Transition Administrator (TA), which has been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission to administer the reconfiguration of the 800 MHz band in the US. As lead counsel to the TA, Robert has deep experience with state and local government process and with public safety communications systems. He has the primary responsibility of coordinating the Transition Administrator’s relationship with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and has extensive experience in working in public/private partnerships and other cooperative relationships with government authorities. Robert has overseen all aspects of the firm's participation in this multi-billion dollar program, including the structuring and implementing of an alternative dispute resolution process in which more than 2,000 negotiations have been mediated, and developing and maintaining program plans and policies to administer the reconfiguration of the 800 MHz band in the US, including an Independence Management Plan, Confidentiality Plan, Communications Plan and Record Retention Plan. 

Robert is a recognized expert in the field of intelligent transportation, including connected and autonomous vehicles, and has represented public and private sector interests involved in research, development and deployment of intelligent transportation technologies for 25 years. He has served as counsel to the principal public and private association for intelligent transportation systems (ITS) in the US since 1992. On behalf of that client, he successfully petitioned the FCC for a landmark allocation of spectrum in the 5.9 GHz band to establish the Dedicated Short Range Communications Service (DSRC) for the provision of vehicle to infrastructure and vehicle to vehicle communications. Robert has assisted many other parties involved in the development of ITS technologies, including location and navigation systems, digital mapmakers, cellphone probe system operators and vehicular radar manufacturers, among others. He has advised on connected and autonomous vehicles, spectrum allocation, public policy, risk management issues, data privacy and cybersecurity, competition, private equity placement and other issues.

Robert has served on the boards of directors of four publicly-traded and privately-held companies involved in the provision of telecommunications services and products, and chaired the Compensation Committee and served on the Audit Committee of publicly-traded companies.

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  • Lead counsel to the 800 MHz Transition Administrator.
  • Transactional and regulatory counsel to US-based telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers.
  • Counsel to intelligent transportation interests for more than 25 years. Matters include successful prosecution of request for a significant allocation of spectrum for ITS; representation on deployment of wireless E-911; and application of federal and state data privacy, cybersecurity, intellectual property, antitrust, commercial and tort laws to emerging intelligent transportation technologies.
  • Counsel to non-US telecommunications service providers and equipment manufacturers investing in US business opportunities.
  • Counsel to major participants in FCC spectrum auctions.
  • Served as board member of two publicly traded and two privately held wireless companies. 


  • Duke University, J.D., 1981
  • Duke University, A.B., magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, 1978


  • District of Columbia, 1992
  • Virginia, 1981


  • U.S. Ct. of App., District of Columbia Circuit
  • Recognized in The Best Lawyers in America 2023 for Communications Law

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Speaking Engagements

  • Panelist, “5G Wireless and the Challenges of Governance,” Silicon Flatirons Association Roundtable, Washington DC, June 6, 2017.
  • Moderator, “Wireless Communications in Autonomous Driving,” Squire Patton Boggs, San Francisco, CA, March 23, 2017.
  • Panelist, “Future of the Internet of Things in Mission Critical Applications,” Silicon Flatirons Association Roundtable, Washington DC, June 22, 2016.
  • Moderator, “Automotive Cyber Security,” Telecommunications Industry Association Vehicle Connectivity Workshop, Washington DC, December 8, 2015.
  • Moderator, Session Two “Incentive Auction Gathers Pace,” International Institute of Communications (IIC) Telecommunications and Media Forum 2014, Washington DC, December 2, 2014.
  • Moderator, Session AM 02, “5.9 GHz Dedicated Short Range Communications: Will there be Available Spectrum Resources at 5.9 GHz to Support DSRC Deployment?” 21st ITS World Congress, Detroit, Michigan, September 8, 2014.
  • Speaker, “Spectrum Auctions –Dollars, Decisions and Dilemmas,” Broadcast Education Association, BEA/NAB 2014, Las Vegas, Nevada, April 8, 2014.
  • Speaker, “Property Rights in Spectrum, Water and Minerals,” Silicon Flatirons Association, Boulder, Colorado, April 3, 2014.
  • Moderator, Session Five “Latest Spectrum Bulletin From North America,” IIC Telecommunications and Media Forum 2013, Washington DC, December 4, 2013.
  • Speaker, Session ES09 "International Spectrum Allocation Policies," 20th ITS World Congress, Tokyo, Japan, October 17, 2013.
  • Speaker, Panel 2, “Strategies to Promote Transition Coordination and Cost Mitigation among Broadcasters,” Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Workshop on Reassignment of TV Stations after the Incentive Auction, Washington DC, September 30, 2013.
  • Speaker, “Towards Dynamic Markets in Electric Power, Water, and Wireless Spectrum,” Silicon Flatirons Association, Boulder, Colorado, April 23, 2013.
  • Speaker “DSRC Band Spectrum Sharing,” Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America), Legislative Steering Committee, Washington DC, December 5, 2012.
  • Speaker “DSRC Band Spectrum Sharing,” ITS America, Policy and Business Council, Washington DC, December 4, 2012.
  • Moderator, Session ES07, “The Growing Debate Over ITS Spectrum: A Discussion of Policy and Regulatory Imperatives,” 22nd Annual Meeting & Exposition, ITS America, National Harbor, MD, May 23, 2012.
  • Moderator, Session Two “Wireless Futures: How to Deliver the Full Potential,” IIC Telecommunications and Media Forum 2011, Washington DC, December 14, 2011.
  • Speaker, Session SS04 Next Generation Internet: ITS Integrated With Smartphone World," 18th ITS World Congress, Orlando, Florida, October 17, 2013.
  • Moderator, Session Two “Meeting the Challenge of Rising Spectrum Demand,” IIC Telecommunications and Media Forum 2011, Washington DC, December 7, 2010.
  • Presentations and panels before:
    • Association of Public Safety Communications Officials International, Orlando, Florida, 2009.
    • National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors, Alexandria, VA, 2007.
    • ITS World Congress Chicago, Illinois 2002, Madrid, Spain, 2003, San Francisco, California, 2005, New York City, New York, 2008.
    • ITS America Annual Meetings Atlanta, Georgia 1993, Washington, DC, 1995, Houston, Texas, 1996, Washington, DC 1997, Detroit, MI, 1998, San Antonio, TX, 2004.
    • Federal Communications Commission
    • International Bar Association


  • Co-author, “Defining a Stable, Protected and Secure Spectrum Environment for Autonomous Vehicles,” 52 Santa Clara Law Review 1271, 2012.
  • Co-author, “Spectrum Trading in the EU and the U.S. – Shifting Ends and Means,” International Comparative Legal Guide, August 2011.
  • Author, “Responding to the Needs of the Telecommunications Client,” Telecommunications Client Strategies, Aspatore Press, 2008.
  • Co-author, The Spectrum Regulation Handbook, Thompson Publishing Group, 1994.
  • Co-author, articles in Thinking Highways:
    • “Regulating Autonomous Vehicles: Federal and State Conflict?” April 2016.
    • “The More Things Change… [10-year summary],” January 2016.
    • ”Regulating ITS: Evolution or Disruption?” October 2015.
    • “Capitol Hill Seeks Answers on Connected Cars and Cybersecurity,” July 2015.
    • “Cybersecurity and Connected Vehicles: Is the Risk Real,” April 2015.
    • “Will the Public Trust Intelligent Transportation Systems?” January 2015.
    • “US Supreme Court Rules on Smartphones and Privacy,” August 2014.
    • “In-Vehicle Navigation: NHTSA Seeks to Have a Say,” June 2014.
    • “NHTSA Announces Its Decision to Pursue V2V Connected Vehicles, but what does this mean from a legal standpoint?” April 2014.
    • “Connected Vehicles: A Review or the Key, Early Legal Issues,” January 2014.
    • “5.9 GHz Stakeholders Make their Case to the FCC,” October 2013.
    • “NHTSA Tells States to Proceed with Caution in Permitting Self-Driving Vehicles,” July 2013.
    • “DSRC Spectrum: Further Steps to Open the Band to Unlicensed Users,” April 2013.
    • “NHTSA Proposes to Make Black Boxes Mandatory in 2014,” January 2013.
    • “States Act to Authorize Autonomous Vehicles,” November 2012.
    • “US Supreme Court Rules on GPS Tracking and Privacy,” May 2012.
    • “Congress Targets DSRC Spectrum for Study,” March 2012.
    • “Mobile Services, Location Data and Privacy in a Smartphone World,” December 2011.
    • “The US’s DSRC Spectrum is Under Threat,” September 2011.
    • “GPS and the Fourth Amendment,” April 2011.
    • “Critical Mass: Massachusetts Toll Discount Scheme Survives Constitutional Challenge – Again,” December 2010.
    • “Bank Statement: President Obama’s Call for a National Infrastructure Bank,” September 2010.
    • “Congress Poised to Make Black Boxes Mandatory,” June 2010.
    • “Take Your positions … Global GPS,” March 2010.
    • “ITS and Privacy: Under Scrutiny Again,” September 2009.
    • “Input and Output: Does ITS Have a Role in Reducing Greenhouse Gases?” May 2009.
    • “If Not Now, When? How Much Nearer are we to Knowing Who is Going to Pay for All This ITS Stuff?” March 2009.
    • “Called to Account. Is it Time for a New Deal for Transportation? If so, can ITS lead the way?” October 2008.
    • “Hanging Tough? So just who is responsible if vehicle software causes an accident?” September 2008.
    • “Fuel to the Fire … or Not. Will high gas prices slow down ITS?” June 2008.
    • “We’re With the Band. 700 MHz: A Public/Private Partnership for Public Safety Communications?” February 2008.
    • “License Plate Recognition Systems: Should Drivers be Concerned?” November 2007.
    • “Manhattan on the Rocks. As Congestion Pricing Heads to New York, Are All the Legal Issues Being Considered?” September 2007.
    • “We Know Where You Are Going … Is Congestion Pricing a Risk to Privacy?” June 2007.
    • “No Jam Today: Are we entering a new era for private involvement in transportation? March 2007.
    • “Divide and Rule: The final Black Box rule has been released by NHTSA… and a can of worms has been opened,” January 2007.
  • Co-author, articles in Traffic Technology International:
    • “Program Notes. TTI’s Legal Experts Study the Implications for VII Deployment,” May 2006.
    • “Protecting Customer Information: New Obligations for ITS?” March 2006.
    • “Federal ITS Deployment Program Comes Under the Microscope,” December 2005.
    • “TEA 21 Reauthorization: The Finish Line is Crossed,” September 2005.
    • “Standards and ITS: The Process to Achieve Interoperability,” June 2005.
    • “US Spectrum Management Policy Reform,” February 2005.
    • “511 Comes Under Renewed Attacks,” November 2004.
    • “DSRC: Licensing and Other Questions Remain Open,” October 2004.
    • “Radiofrequency ID Devices: A Privacy Problem for ITS? August 2004.
    • “NHTSA Proposes Rules for Event Data Recorders,” July 2004.
    • “Ten Years … and Counting,” April 2004.
    • “TEA 21 Reauthorization Proposals,” March 2004.
    • “NHTSA Implements New Safety Data Reporting Requirements,” August 2003.
    • “Navigating Privacy Across the Oceans,” June 2003.
    • “Regulatory to Accumulate,” May 2003.
    • “FCC Proposes Rules for Deployment of ITS Systems,” May 2003.
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