Oregon Looks to Repeal Law That Gave Comcast a Hug
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A few years ago, you might recall that Oregon legislators passed a new law giving tax cuts to ISPs willing to quickly deploy gigabit broadband in the state. The goal was to encourage the rise of smaller broadband competitors, easing their entry into what traditional has been a very hostile market controlled by politically-powerful incumbents. But the effort had numerous issues, first of which being that an initial draft actually make deployment more expensive for companies like Google Fiber. The other problem: Comcast quickly nabbed millions in tax breaks due to the legislation without having to do much of anything different.

Oregon lawmakers quickly lamented their decision, pointing out that Comcast charging $300 per month (plus a $1000 install fee) wasn't quite the kind of behavior they were looking to reward.

The 2015 effort also backfired in that Google Fiber, which had repeatedly hinted at offering service in the city, abruptly backtracked in 2016 after Google higher ups began to get cold feet about the slow pace and high costs of fiber deployments. With the tax cuts intended to aid competition instead going to pad incumbent pockets, the state now wants that money going back into its communities, not Comcast's already-flush wallet.

As such, state lawmakers are now looking at killing off the relatively young law entirely. According to estimates, Comcast is now netting $15 million a year in tax breaks from the new law and Frontier Communications about $2.5 million. And again, those huge tax breaks came without either company doing much of anything differently (Comcast had already planned to offer gigabit broadband via DOCSIS 3.1 in the state).

State Rep Rob Nosse says the bill was a rushed attempt to improve broadband competition in the state, but wasn't properly vetted before passage.

"We should start over. It's too generous a tax break," Nosse said. "I'm not even sure if it's needed, and I think we should stop offering it."
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Submitted: 02/26/18

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Oregon Looks to Repeal Law That Gave Comcast a Hug
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