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Fiber Broadband Association Annual Awards

Each year, the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) celebrates the outstanding contributions of individuals and organizations in the industry who have advanced the fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) industry. Five awards are given by FBA annually: Chairman’s Award, Star Award, Photon Award, Dr. Charles Kao Award, and the Gene Scott Education Award.

For information on our new FBA Awards Luncheon hosted at Fiber Connect 2024, click here!

Chairman’s Award

The Chairman’s Award singles out an individual or company that has shown tremendous effort to promote, educate, or accelerate fiber-to-the-home.

2023 Recipient – Gary Bolton, President & CEO, Fiber Broadband Association
Bolton leads FBA’s efforts in the U.S. and Latin America, and represents the industry at events around the world. He has worked to ensure policymakers are well-versed in fiber’s benefits, leading FBA to provide resources to committees and departments. Under Bolton’s leadership, FBA also addressed the fundamental industry issue of workforce development. FBA published the Workforce Development Guidebook, providing an extensive framework for how states can use BEAD funding to solve local fiber workforce needs.


Star Award

The Star Award recognizes a person, community, or company that has gone above and beyond what is expected in the advancement of fiber to the home.

2023 Recipient – Northern Colorado Community Fiber (NOCO Community Fiber)a
NOCO Community Fiber is a partnership between municipality-owned communications utilities and the county they empower. It is dedicated to the delivery of reliable, high-quality, affordable fiber broadband and has demonstrated that this critical connectivity is achievable when communities collaborate on creative solutions and profitability is removed from the equation. Collectively, the city-owned broadband utilities in the partnership have stood up the option for Fiber-to-the-Premise to over 125,000 addresses in five years. Now with an additional $10,000,000 in county and state funds, NOCO Community Fiber is working to serve 2,650 rural and harder-to-access locations, with more to come as financial resources are available.

Photon Award

The Photon Award recognizes a Fiber Broadband Association member who, through their volunteer contribution, has demonstrated a high level of dedication to the organization and contribution to the industry.

2023 Recipient – Brendan O’Boyle, National Sales Manager, Preformed Line Products
O’Boyle is a long-term active member of the Fiber Broadband Association. He helped create the Deployment Specialists Committee and devotes countless hours of service to the Committee, the broader Association, and its events. He led the arduous effort to craft the first Fiber and 5G whitepaper and played a critical role in the development and rollout of the Fiber Broadband Association’s Optical Telecom Installer Certification (OpTIC Path™) workforce development program.

Dr. Charles Kao Award

The Dr. Charles Kao Award for Community Broadband honors Dr. Kao and celebrates the lasting impact he continues to make on the fiber industry. Dr. Charles Kao, regarded by many as the “Father of Fiber Optics,” revolutionized the transmission of data and laid the foundation for fiber connectivity around the world. The award recognizes individuals, organizations, or companies that honor Dr. Kao’s innovation and connect communities with fiber optic technology.

The Fiber Broadband Association presents this award in conjunction with world Gimme Fiber Day — an international day to celebrate Dr. Charles Kao and fiber-to-the-home on his birthdate of November 4. The award is presented annually on this day to commemorate him.

2023 Recipient – James Salter, Founder & CEO, Atlantic Engineering Group
Salter spent 15 years in the electric utility industry before becoming the founder and CEO of Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG), a fiber engineering and construction company. Before being acquired in 2022 by Young’s Communications, LLC (Y-COM), AEG helped support over 130 fiber projects, including the first city-wide FTTH network in the U.S. in 2000, and more than 60 other city-wide FTTH projects, representing 2,800,000 homes passed.

Gene Scott Education Award

The Gene Scott Education Award recognizes a person, community, or institution that has provided significant impact on the advancement of FBA’s fiber education efforts.


2023 Recipient – S&N Communications
Among its many contributions to the OpTIC Path program, S&N Communications leveraged its practical experience employing fiber optic technicians to develop the popular “Documentation, Values, and Success in the Field” module for the OpTIC Path course. The module distinguishes FBA’s program from other fiber optic training courses by highlighting actions to help make technicians successful in the field, including a focus on safety, craftsmanship, documentation, and customer service. 

Previous Award Recipients

Chairman’s Award

2022 – Veronica Bloodworth, Chief Network Officer, Frontier
As Chief Network Officer at Frontier, Bloodworth oversees all of the company’s network operations, including leading Frontier’s fiber-first accelerated buildout that is expected to reach 10 million total locations by the end of 2025. Prior to that, she was with AT&T for 23 years, rising to the position of Senior Vice President of Construction and Engineering. Under her leadership, AT&T deployed fiber to over 14 million customers.

2021 – Ben Moncrief, Senior Vice President – Strategic Relations, C Spire
Ben Moncrief is the chairman of FBA’s Public Policy Committee. He has vast personal experience in public policy and has been instrumental in leading FBA’s strategy and direction on advocacy and policy matters on federal, state and local levels. The fiber industry is at the beginning of the largest investment cycle in its history and under Moncrief’s leadership the FBA is educating and influencing policy to support the needs of the fiber broadband community.

2020 – Virginia Walker, Former CEO, Walker & Associates
The Fiber Broadband Association was honored to present this award to Virginia Walker, Former CEO, Walker and Associates. Virginia co-founded Walker and Associates in 1970, and she built the business into a multi-million dollar international technology company at a time when women in telecom were not acknowledged or celebrated. Virginia has paved the way for women in business and technology to succeed, pursue leadership roles, and push gender-based boundaries.

“I was proud to present this year’s Chairman’s Award during our annual Women in Fiber Luncheon,” said Katie Espeseth, Vice President of New Products, EPB and Fiber Broadband Association Board Chair. “Virginia’s leadership and determination are an inspiration to all women, and it was my pleasure to honor her at this forum.”

2019 – ALLO Communications
ALLO Communications, the 2019 Award Winner, has provided communities across Nebraska and Colorado with the fiber infrastructure they need to build for the future. ALLO has fueled economies and innovation in the communities it serves by providing 100% ubiquitous fiber coverage for fast, reliable service that its customers can depend on. ALLO’s commitment to strengthening and growing relationships within the community, conquering the digital divide, and providing consistent, exceptional service has helped future-proof the cities it serves for the 21st century.

2018 – Marc Hudson, co-founder and CEO of Detroit’s fiber internet startup Rocket Fiber
Four years ago, Detroit had almost no fiber infrastructure and was one of the most disconnected cities in America. Rocket Fiber has fueled Detroit’s resurgence by taking a leadership position, investing in fiber broadband infrastructure to deliver affordable, high-speed gigabit internet services to Detroit’s businesses and residences while also investing in the social infrastructure of Detroit’s entrepreneurs and small businesses.FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr recently recognized Rocket Fiber’s efforts. “Detroit is a great story of a comeback city that I think broadband has really played a role, helping spur some of those businesses that have come back to city,” Carr said.

J. Michael Hill, CEO of On Trac, Incorporated
Mike Hill has worked in this industry since 2003 and is serving his eleventh year as a member, serving as chairman of the board three times. Mike’s company, On Trac, Incorporated was one of the founding members of the Fiber to the Home Council, which would become the Fiber Broadband Association. Mike receives the Chairman’s Award for his tireless commitment to the fiber broadband industry — as colleague, mentor and friend.

The board of the Fiber Broadband Association was also honored to present President & CEO Heather Burnett Gold with a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her 34 years as a leader in the fiber industry. The award was presented at the Fiber Connect Conference on June 4th, 2018.

2017 – Corning and Verizon
Over the past year, both these companies have demonstrated an exemplary commitment to the industry and its continued success, most notably by Verizon’s recent $1.05 billion purchase agreement with Corning for next-generation optical solutions.

2016 – Bob Whitman, Vice President of Global Carrier Programs, Corning
Bob Whitman was a founding member of the FTTH Council and served on the first board of directors. He was instrumental in the development of the Council’s original business case model and drove the globalization of the Council. As an expert in the economics of FTTH network deployment, Mr. Whitman is both highly respected within his company and throughout the industry.

2015 – CenturyLink
An organization that has carefully and quietly rolled out service to almost 20 communities across the United States. Since its announcement of its first Gigabit pilot in mid-2013, CenturyLink has been providing high-speed broadband service to underserved communities.

2014 – Google Fiber
A previous FTTH Council award winner, because of the powerful impact they have had on the fiber-to-the-home industry, taking a chance as a non-incumbent service provider and following through on their commitment to Kansas City and other publically announced cities. Google is also recognized for creating a novel and working business model that has inspired other network operators and scores of municipalities to consider FTTH either on their own or in these types of public/private partnerships. Jill Szuchmacher, Director of Business Development accepted this award on behalf of Google Fiber.

2013 – Jackson Energy Authority (JEA)
For its near ten years of FTTH leadership. In 2004, JEA decided to build on a reputation for utility service delivery–they also deliver electric, water, wastewater, and natural gas services—and began to deploy fiber, becoming the first fiber-to-the-home network in the state of Tennessee. The network attracted worldwide attention and became a model for showcasing technology while mentoring new entrants in the industry throughout the U.S. and the world. They have established and maintain a reputation for excellence and commitment to communities in their service areas, connecting schools, public safety systems and healthcare facilities to ultra-high-speed bandwidth. Ben Lovins, Senior Vice President of Telecom accepted the award on behalf of Jackson Energy Authority.

2012 – Jim Baller
The president of the Baller Herbst Law Group in Washington, DC, represents clients in a broad range of communications matters nationally and in more than 35 states. He was also the founder of the US Broadband Coalition, a large and diverse consortium of organizations of all kinds that forged a broad consensus on the need for a national broadband strategy and then developed the framework reflected in the FCC’s National Broadband Plan. The FTTH Council is proud to honor him for his relentless promotion and pursuit of community broadband and of faster networks for everyone. His efforts have paved the way for the deployment of all-fiber networks across the country.

2011 – Google, Inc.
For being one company that has done more than any other organization in pointing out the critical importance of all-fiber networks to community leaders and citizens across the country, and to get them active in promoting the value of fiber for their future. More than 1,100 communities applied to participate in Google’s gigabit FTTH pilot project. And today, people in the Kansas City area are anticipating the rollout of a next-generation, superfast network that is holding great promise for economic development.

2010 – Hiawatha Broadband Communications
For its role in ensuring that our national policymakers know how important all-fiber access is to America’s telecommunications networks, our economy, our national competitiveness, and our future as a high-tech leader.

2009 – Verizon Communications Inc.
For remaining steadfast in its commitment to fiber to the home in a year where many companies struggled with making the right decision for their future and for continuing to move aggresively into new markets.

2008 – GVTC & Dr. Michael Browder, CEO of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES)
Because of the significant contributions made to the industry in 2008, two Chairman’s Awards were given to GVTC of Texas and Dr. Michael Browder, for their tremendous effort to promote, educate and accelerate fiber.

2007 – Jim Farmer, CTO of Wave7 Optics
For his outstanding contribution to the success and growth of the FTTH industry.

2006 – The State of Texas
For passing statewide video franchise reform. As a result of this pioneering effort, other states have passed similar reform bills which have resulted in an increase in FTTH deployment.

2005 – Mayor-President Joey Durel, Lafayette City-Parish, Louisiana
For his unwavering effort to overcome legal issues in the deployment of fiber to his community which resulted in a public campaign and subsequent referendum in which citizens voted in support of the Lafayette Fiber to the Home project.

Star Award

2022 – Sunbridge, community in Central Florida
When traditional incumbent service providers did not offer high-speed broadband options in the Central Florida region surrounding Sunbridge community, Tavistock Development Company decided to provide 10G symmetrical FTTH services all on its own. Tavistock will provide up to 10 Gbps symmetrical FTTH services to an anticipated 10,000 residents over the next 10 years to support the large-scale development plans for residents and businesses and their increased demand for OTT streaming, telehealth, remote education, and work-from-home scenarios.

2021 – Lit Communities
Lit Communities is a forward-thinking builder and operator of next-generation network infrastructure and a consultancy that guides communities through the complicated process of deploying their own open application for fiber optic utilities. The organization makes fiber networks feasible to build in communities of all sizes. Lit’s focus is on public-private partnerships and working with communities to achieve their goals of offering life-changing architecture. In addition to its 10 community assessment projects across the country, Lit has become an ISP and will launch its first fiber broadband deployment in Medina, OH, this summer.

2020 – United Cooperative Services
This year’s recipient is United Services Cooperative in recognition of its efforts to build a fiber-to-the-home network that will serve a 14-county service territory where 87% of members previously had little or no access to high-speed broadband. The electric cooperative stepped up to this challenge, and the FBA celebrates United Services Cooperative’s goal to deliver competitively priced ultrafast broadband to its members

2019 – Sonic
This year’s recipient of the Star Award is Sonic. Since 1994, Sonic have been committed to supplying local communities with fast, affordable connectivity, and just this year Sonic announced its largest expansion of gigabit fiber networks to date throughout the Bay Area. We congratulate Sonic on 25 years of providing its more than 100,000 customers with affordable, high-speed Internet service.

2018 – John Cinelli, CEO of MetroNet
Under John’s leadership, MetroNet has committed to working with policymakers to turn Lexington, Kentucky into a gigabit city, planning to invest as much as $70M over the next three years to run fiber to over 90,000 homes and businesses.

2017 – Bell Canada
Founded in 1880, Bell Canada is the country’s largest communications company, offering broadband fiber services such as Fibe TV and Gigabit Internet to millions of Canadians. Expanding fiber-to-the-home throughout urban centers in seven provinces, including the country’s largest cities Toronto and Montréal, Bell Canada is a North American leader in broadband investment and innovation.

2016 – Cincinnati Bell
For its leading FTTH services offered under the brand name Fioptics.

2015 – C Spire Communications
In recognition of their expansion into rural markets across the state of Mississippi.

2014 – Federal Communications Commission

2013 – Kansas City, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas
For giving the rest of the country a model of civic engagement to follow. When Google announced they would be bringing their new fiber product to the area, these communities did not wait for the benefits of next-generation networks to just appear. The mayors of these communities established a Bistate Innovations Team, charged with recommending ways to take full advantage of the coming next-generation network infrastructure. The group established a playbook and handed over responsibility for executing those plays to a community-driven, digital leadership network called KC Digital Drive. That group has hit the ground running, working to put a social infrastructure firmly in place as the physical infrastructure is under construction. Aaron Deacon, Managing Director of KC Digital Drive and former Mayor of KCMO, Joe Reardon accepted the award on behalf of the cities.

2012 – Gig. U
This year’s award recognizes the University Community Next Generation Innovation Project – commonly known as Gig. U – which has been making huge waves in its efforts to accelerate the deployment of ultra-high-speed networks to leading U.S. universities and their surrounding communities. The brainchild of Blair Levin, who managed the preparation of the National Broadband Plan at the FCC, Gig. U is a consortium of more than 30 leading research universities from across the U.S. The organization is working tirelessly to organize and improve local networks in these communities into gigabit powerhouses that can fuel innovation, economic growth and improvements in health care and education. The organization has been a valued partner of the FTTH Council in promoting the expansion of ultra-high-speed networks.

2011 – Legend Conference Planning
The FTTH Council recognizes the important contributions of Legend Conference Planning – which for seven years has operated the FTTH Council secretariat and has organized the annual FTTH Conference & Expo – to the success of the FTTH Council’s industry promotion efforts. Indeed, the Council relies heavily, day after day, on Legend’s ongoing contributions of knowledge, ideas, strategic direction and leadership. When the final chapter is written on the enormous success and advancement of fiber to the home in the 21st century, it will include the important role played by Legend Conference Planning.

2010 – EPB
EPB fought and prevailed over some of the toughest challenges imaginable in their quest to bring next-generation all-fiber connectivity to the Chattanooga metro area, which is going to benefit in huge ways because their citizens have all-fiber service, all-fiber bandwidth, and all that entails with regard to keeping competitive in the 21st-century economy.

2009 – EATEL
An FTTH pioneer in Gulf South, who has repeatedly repaired and rebuilt their network after massive hurrican damage from Katrina, Ruth and Gustav, and assisted other Louisiana service providers to restore their networks.

2008 – Broadband Properties Magazine
For its contribution to educating and promoting the benefits of fiber to the home and fiber to the premises, technology both in the magazine as well as at its annual Broadband Properties Summit held each spring.

2007 – Michael Render, CEO and President of Render Vanderslice LLC
For his extensive research of North American FTTH deployments.

2006 – Tom Cohen of the Washington legal firm, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
For his influential advocacy in testimony before the FCC and the House of Representatives which resulted in the successful passing of the Telecom Reform Bill (Barton Bill).

2005 – Mayor Graham Richard, Fort Wayne, Indiana
Whose collaboration with Verizon resulted in an FTTP overbuild for Ft. Wayne and a subsequent economic revitalization plan around the Verizon deployment.

Photon Award

2022 – Stand Fendley, Corning
Fendley has served as the director of legislative and regulatory policy for Corning for the past 22 years. During this time, he has been dedicated and instrumental in the founding and development of the Fiber Broadband Association and was first recognized with the Star Award in 2002. Since then, Stan has been a strategic leader in the Fiber Broadband Association, serving on the front line of the Association’s advocacy and public policy initiatives and working with Capitol Hill, key federal agencies, and the White House. He also helped create the Fiber Optic Sensing Association (FOSA) in 2017. His work continues to help close the digital divide and deliver future-proof broadband to every household in North America.

2021 – Mark Boxer, Technical Manager, Solutions and Applications Engineering Manager, OFS
Mark is recognized for his continued personal initiative, passion for the fiber industry, dedication and drive. He led the FBA’s efforts on workforce development to create a desperately needed fiber broadband certification and intensive training program that will be launched this year across community colleges, high schools and with veterans nationwide. Boxer’s leadership is noticeably effective as he is highly collaborative and is a tremendous contributor to FBA’s success.

2020 – Joseph Jones, Executive Vice President, On Trac, Inc.
Joseph’s ability to balance his position as a leader at On Trac with his role as Conference Chair for the Fiber Connect event is truly commendable. He has worked tirelessly with exceptional success in advancing the fiber industry.

2019 – Mark Boxer, Applications Engineering Manager with OFS.
For the past ten years, Mark has been a key member of FBA’s Technology Committee, an ambassador for the organization, and has been an important contributor on several Fiber Broadband Association commissioned white papers and reports.

2018 – Jennifer Wainright, Associate with Kelley Drye
Jennifer expertly organized and supported the Fiber Broadband Association’s advocacy and leadership of the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Deployment Advisory Council subcommittee on a State Model Code.

2017 – Kevin Kress, Clearfield
Kevin has expertly organized and led the Technology Committee, demonstrating true organizational excellence through his Action Item Register (AIR).

2016 – Scott Jackson, BDM Smart Grid, Graybar.
Mr. Jackson has been a member of the Council for over ten years — seven of which he served in leadership positions — and has always been passionate about helping a wide range of new providers determine how to deploy all-fiber networks.

2015 – Ian Williams, Senior Design Specialist of Telus.
Ian has impressively balanced his role as a leader in his company’s deployment of fiber-to-the-home with his active role as a FTTH Council member.

2014 – J. Michael Hill CEO and President of On Trac.
Mike has worked tirelessly on behalf of the FTTH Council for over 10 years, serving on the Board for over 8 years.

2013 – Liza Poe, Director of the LATAM Chapter Marketing Committee and CALA Market Manager for Corning Telecom
Liza produced the last two highly successful Annual LATAM Conferences and was also recognized for her work on producing information on Fiber to the Home for carriers and vendors in Latin America in Spanish and Portuguese.

2012 – Gilberto Guitarte, of TE Connectivity
It takes special people to get out in front of the pack – to lead, to innovate and to work hard, day after day, to make this growth happen. As the Latin American region moves decisively into the future with fiber, the FTTH Council’s LATAM Chapter has been leading the charge. Under Chairman Gilberto Guitarte’s leadership, the chapter has been growing and becoming more influential year by year. Gilberto Guitarte is a force for faster and better broadband throughout Latin America, and for all of the economic and social progress that will bring to the region, and therefore is most deserving of this year’s Photon Award.

2011 – John George of OFS
Has headed up the organization of the learning program at the annual FTTH Conference & Expo – all the track sessions, industry panels, and white papers. It is an enormous amount of work. It takes a lot of skill and commitment of time. And John George has been there for the industry, every year, making the commitment, doing the work, and leading the conference to great success.

2010 – Joseph Jones of OnTrac, Inc.
The chair of the Council’s Planning and Marketing Committee has undertaken enormous responsibility and committed extensive time and attention to ensuring the success of our conferences and events.

2009 – Nelson Saito, Furukawa do Brazil, Gilberto Guitarte of TE Connectivity, and Peter Ballhaussen of Corning Cable Systems
These men have been instrumental in launching the FTTH Council’s Latin America Chapter in May 2009, with a mission to help accelerate deployment in countries such as Brazil, Chile, and Argentina, while reaching out to promote the benefits of FTTH for economic growth, education and health care in the region.

2008 – Kevin Bourg, Director of Global Sales, Enablence Wave7 FTTx Networks, and Laura Pepper, Marketing Specialist of Carina Technologies
For the many volunteer hours as project leads for both the Fiber-Powered Pavilion and the Home Networking Zone.

2007 – Mark Turner, Manager Consulting Engineering, Corning Cable Systems
For his instrumental work to develop the Home Networking Zone and for his volunteer efforts in chairing the Technology Committee which produced a number of white papers and technical webinars throughout the year.

2006 – Michael Kunigonis, Product Line Manager-Access, of Corning Cable Systems
Michael as the 2006 honoree for his extraordinary dedication, time, and commitment in his volunteer efforts to advance the Council and its mission.

2005 – Patrick Sims, Senior System Project Engineer, ADC
For volunteering in various capacities and for his work as the Chair of the FTTH Council Planning Committee.

Dr. Charles Kao Award

2022 – Horizon Broadband
Horizon began in 1895 as a local telephone company. Today, the service provider operates 6,000+ miles of fiber to deliver high-quality connectivity to residents and businesses in Ohio, West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, and Indiana. Throughout 2022, Horizon significantly expanded its fiber footprint to bring connectivity to more communities. This included new fiber builds in three key Ohio markets to support an increased demand for highly-scalable, low latency bandwidth. It also completed an acquisition that added approximately 450 route miles of fiber to Horizon’s existing all-fiber network. As part of the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program, Horizon was commissioned to build new fiber networks that deliver symmetrical Gigabit speeds and reach nearly 2,500 underserved households in Ohio.

2021 – Steve Foshee, CEO at Tombigbee Communications
Steve is receiving the Dr. Charles Kao award in recognition of his leadership of a powerful initiative to deliver broadband to rural Alabama, enabling communities there to grow and prosper. As the state’s first broadband partnership between an investor-owned utility and an electric cooperative, Tombigbee Communications teamed up with Alabama Power to use existing infrastructure to offer high-speed broadband services. Tombigbee Communications will lease available capacity on fiber infrastructure, used by Alabama Power on its electric grid for reliable and resilient service, as additional support for its backbone network to reach and connect its customers.

2020 – Charles Phillips, VP of Engineering and Technical Services
Mr. Phillips received the Dr. Charles Kao award in recognition of his work with Gibson EMC to build out a fiber network throughout the cooperative’s 12-county service area and connecting its six member service centers and 21 distribution substations. Mr. Phillips has been with Gibson EMC since 1997, managing the purchasing, engineering, GIS, and IT/telecommunications functions of the cooperative.

2019 (Inaugural) – Colman Keane, Executive Director, Connexion
Colman is an expert on building out fiber optics networks – from the initial business planning and technical architecture to software implementation. Previously, he was the Director of Fiber Technology at EPB, a non-profit agency of the City of Chattanooga, where he helped the city become the world’s first designated “gig city” for its municipal broadband network built on fiber optic cable.

Gene Scott Education Award

2022 (Inaugural) – Greenlight Community Broadband
Greenlight Community Broadband is a community-owned, fiber-to-the-home provider in Wilson, N.C. Since its founding, the service provider’s priority has been to provide comprehensive broadband connections to support local economic health, enhance citizens’ lives, and improve the delivery of city services. Greenlight fostered and supported Gene’s ongoing efforts to build workforce training programs, working with Wilson Community College in North Carolina to create an affordable fiber technician training course. This effort charted the way for the Fiber Broadband Association’s OpTIC Path certification course to launch this year (2022) —a program that will provide specially trained fiber optic technicians to the industry and help service providers meet the historic broadband demands created by billions of dollars in federal funding.