James (Jim) Baller represents clients across the US in a broad range of communications matters including high-capacity broadband network projects, public-private broadband partnerships, telecommunications, wireless facility siting, right-of-way management, pole and conduit attachments, and barriers to community broadband initiatives.
Jim was the founder and president of the US Broadband Coalition, a diverse group of more than 160 communications service providers, high technology companies, labor unions, public interest and consumer groups, state and local government entities, utilities, charitable institutions, and other organizations. The Coalition fostered a broad national consensus on the need for a national broadband strategy and recommended the framework that was subsequently reflected in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband Plan. Jim is also the co-founder and president of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice, an alliance of more than 600 organizations and individuals that works to prevent or remove barriers to the ability of local governments to make the critical broadband infrastructure decisions that affect their communities.
Jim advises clients in numerous matters involving complex factual, legal, and policy issues. He collaborates with legal, financial, accounting, engineering, and other technical experts to assist state, regional, and local government entities in making comprehensive telecommunications plans, establishing state-of-the-art communications systems, developing strategic partnerships, and integrating right-of-way and zoning ordinances, franchises, licenses, pole-attachment agreements, contracts, forms, permits and other related documents.
Jim is a frequent speaker on communications matters, and he chairs the broadband-and-economic-development programs at Broadband Communities’ national and regional conferences. He has authored and co-authored numerous articles including, “Public Infrastructure/Private Service: A Shared-Risk Partnership Model for the 21st Century,” The Benton Institute for Broadband and Society (October 2020);“The Emerging World of Broadband Public-Private Partnerships: A Business Strategy and Legal Guide,” The Benton Foundation (May 2017); “Economic Development Is the Killer App for Local Fiber Networks,” Broadband Communities Magazine (November/December 2016); “A Practical Primer on Pole Attachments,” (March 2012); “Report of the US Broadband Coalition on a National Broadband Strategy,” (September 2009); “Bigger Vision, Bolder Action, Brighter Future: Capturing the Promise of Broadband for North Carolina and America,” (June 2008); “A National Broadband Strategy: ‘Make No Small Plans,'” NATOA Journal (Fall 2007); “Eight Bold Steps to a National Broadband Strategy,” FTTH Prism (Jan. 2007); “America Needs a Fiber-Based National Broadband Policy Now,” FTTH Prism (October 2006); “Deceptive Myths About Municipal Broadband: Disinformation About Public Ownership Impeding Progress,” Broadband Properties Magazine (May 2005); and “Curbing Anticompetitive Practices By Cable Incumbents: If Not Now, When?” NATOA Journal of Municipal Telecommunications Policy (Winter 2004).
Prior to joining Keller and Heckman, Jim was the president of a nationally ranked boutique Washington, DC telecommunications firm.
- Served as a consultant to Google’s Fiber for Communities project and participated in numerous initiatives for the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project (Gig.U).
- Developed strategies and agreements relating to infrastructure siting, acquisition, and leasing, including pole attachments, conduit leases, fiber optic cable leases and IRUs, and wireless facilities siting
- Developed and negotiated numerous broadband public-private partnerships
- Participated at all stages of dozens of community-led fiber broadband initiatives
- Won a large federal jury verdict against national cable TV provider for violating Florida’s deceptive and unfair trade practice laws
- Negotiated franchises and other agreements affecting the public right of way
- Assisted municipal cable TV operators with acquiring rights to programming
- Represented scientists studying the health effects of wireless technologies in a class action challenging their research methodology
- Assisted local governments in matters relating to the use of public rights of way for communications infrastructure
- Frequently assisted clients in evaluating and using their purchasing power as a means of lowering their costs and maximizing benefits for their communities
- Former President, US Broadband Coalition
- President of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice
- Chair, Broadband Communities’ Broadband, Economic Development, and Future of Work Programs
- AV Preeminent rating from Martindale-Hubbell
- Super Lawyer, Washington, DC, 2016 – 2022
- Lifetime Achievement Award; presented by Marquis Who’s Who (2018)
- Community Broadband Advocacy Award; presented by the Southeast Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (2014)
- Chairman’s Award; presented by the Fiber to the Home Council (2012)
- Listed as one of the 25 Top Names in Tech Policy by Ars Technica (2009)
- Named Person of the Year by FiberToday (2009)
- Listed as one of Washington’s Best Lawyers in Washingtonian Magazine (2007)
- Community Broadband Visionary of the Year; presented by NATOA (2007)
- Esme Award; presented by MuniWireless (2006)
- Member of the Year, the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) (2001)