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James
Baller
Partner
Washington, DC
Jim Baller
©2024 Keller and Heckman LLP

James (Jim) Baller represents clients across the United States (U.S.) 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 U.S. 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 was also the co-founder and president of the Coalition for Local Internet Choice, an alliance of more than 600 organizations and individuals that worked 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 has authored and co-authored numerous articles on such matters. This includes “Broadband Partnerships: For Many Communities, A Good Idea at a Good Time,” International Municipal Lawyers Association Journal (Sep-Oct 2021); “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: 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 (January 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. 

Representative Matters

  • Regularly develops and negotiates 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
  • Served as a consultant to Google’s Fiber for Communities project and participated in numerous initiatives involving the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project (Gig.U)
  • Has developed and negotiated dozens of broadband partnerships of many kinds and sizes
  • Has participated in more than 100 community-led broadband initiatives, including many of America's leading public broadband networks
  • Won a large federal jury verdict against a national cable TV provider for violating Florida’s deceptive and unfair trade practice laws
  • Has helped numerous clients identify and comply with applicable federal and state regulatory requirements
  • Assists municipal and cooperative cable TV operators with acquiring rights to programming and other content
  • Represented scientists studying the health effects of wireless technologies in a class action challenging their research methodology
  • Frequently assists clients in evaluating and using their purchasing power as a means of lowering their costs and maximizing benefits for their communities

Memberships

  • American Bar Association (ABA)
  • American Public Power Association (APPA)
  • Electric Cooperative Bar Association (ECBA)
  • Fiber Broadband Association (FBA)
  • National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA)
  • U.S. Broadband Coalition, Former President
  • Coalition for Local Internet Choice, Former President

Awards

  • AV Preeminent® Rated by Martindale-Hubbell
  • Super Lawyers, Washington, DC, 2016 – present
  • 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)
  • Community Broadband Visionary of the Year; presented by the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors (NATOA) (2007) 
  • Esme Award; presented by MuniWireless (2006)
  • Member of the Year, NATOA (2001)

Education

Dartmouth College, B.S., 1969
Cornell University, J.D., 1972