Comcast has been granted a tax break in Oregon that was originally intended for Google Fiber and other service providers offering affordable gigabit Internet to consumers. The tax break, which the Oregon Public Utility Commission has ruled Comcast as eligible for, was brought about for companies that would be making large investments into the state’s infrastructure and more, something critics say Comcast is not doing.
The spirit of the tax break is obvious — companies, namely Google, would face far less of a financial burden in bringing its service (Fiber) to Oregon, but the state and residents would ultimately benefit from the combination of Google’s investment into the state and the affordable high-speed service available through it. Critics claim none of these apply to Comcast and its own “Gigabit Pro” service, which is high-priced and is using an existing network (unlike Google, which tends to start from scratch).
According to Oregon Live, the local utility commission voted 3 to 0 in favor of Comcast’s bid for the tax break — the compay could end up saving tens of millions as a result, money that would have otherwise gone to the state.
The ruling has proven particularly frustrating for Portland, which has spent the years following Google’s expressed interest in the city going through legal hoops to pave the way for a Fiber rollout. Utility laws have been adjusted, a couple of bills have been pushed through state legislature, and, of course, there’s the tax break.
It has been a couple years since Google indicated it may bring Fiber to Portland, and the company has since announced definite plans to launch it elsewhere, including the recent Huntsville, Alabama announcement. With Tuesday’s tax break vote in Oregon, Google appears to have no obstacles left and residents hope Fiber will finally come their way.
Not surprisingly, Comcast and Frontier had both moved to take advantage of that same tax break, and as of Tuesday’s vote, they’ve both been ruled eligible for it. That’s not good news for residents, though, as Comcast’s Gigabit Pro service charges at an installation fee of at least $1,000 and has a nearly $300/month fee.
In what has proven to be a large oversight, the state legislature failed to set specific requirements for service charges and network investment in order for service providers to get the tax break — meaning it appears, at least at this point in the issue, that Comcast will reap the rewards of tax exemption while the state loses millions in potential tax revenue.
SOURCE: Oregon Live