Broadband Champion Jim Baller Presented With Lifetime Achievement Award

Jim Baller

Whether it's supporting municipal broadband projects, fostering public-private partnerships, or advocating for laws and policies to improve local Internet choice, for decades James (Jim) Baller has distinguished himself as a telecom attorney fighting for the rights of communities to decide their own digital futures.

This week, Baller’s trailblazing career was honored at the 50th Anniversary Gala of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) in Washington D.C. where he was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award as ILSR celebrated a half-century of advocacy work to promote and sustain vibrant local communities.

“I am very grateful for this award, which highlights my dedication to informed local broadband choice,” Baller said in accepting the award at the Howard Theater. “Thank you to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance for this recognition and for emphasizing the positive impact of community-driven broadband initiatives.”

Introducing Baller to a packed theater, ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative Director Christopher Mitchell described him as “someone who has shaped our work and has meant a lot for the entire nation.”

Mitchell said not only has Baller worked with countless communities and clients across the country who have benefited from his expert legal advice, but went on to note Baller's legacy and leadership:

"Jim Baller worked on the first municipal broadband project, shaped many of the people organizing for better broadband, and has consistently worked on effective ways to improve Internet access for everyone.”

Currently serving as Senior Counsel with Keller and Heckman’s Telecommunications practice, Baller has long been a leading legal practitioner helping communities do the important nitty gritty work involved in providing better broadband – from the siting of wireless network facilities and managing rights-of-way to negotiating fiber network pole attachments and public private partnerships.

Chris and Jim Baller

However, his legal contributions go far beyond improving Internet access in local communities.

He has also been recognized as a visionary in the broadband policy realm on both the state and federal level, serving as founder and president of the U.S. Broadband Coalition, which helped foster a national consensus on the need for a national broadband strategy. That work ultimately informed the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan.

He was also the co-founder and president of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC), which has been a leading voice in the battle to roll back state preemption laws that either ban or restrict local communities from building publicly-owned broadband infrastructure.

Baller’s other notable accomplishments include: winning a federal jury verdict against a national cable TV provider for violating Florida’s deceptive and unfair trade practice laws; representing scientists studying the health effects of wireless technologies in a class action lawsuit challenging their research methodology; and serving as a consultant to Google Fiber and the many initiatives involved in establishing Gig.U: The University Community Next Generation Innovation Project.

A frequent speaker and prolific author on numerous broadband-related topics, Baller’s Lifetime Achievement Award from ILSR adds to an already impressive collection of awards he has garnered over the years, including being named the Named Person of the Year by FiberToday; recipient of the Community Broadband Advocacy Award from the Southeast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors; and being listed as one of the 25 Top Names in Tech Policy by Ars Technica.