Gov. Brown signs tax bill to woo Google Fiber

House Bill 2485 exempts super-fast Internet service from a unique property tax.

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Gov. Kate Brown signed Thursday a bill that is intended to clear the path for a Google Fiber launch in Portland.

House Bill 2485 exempts super-fast Internet service from a unique property tax.


Portland has already approved a Google Fiber franchise that exempts the company from some of the fees and service requirements Comcast faces. It’s also approved a framework to lease public property to Google Fiber for about 15 “fiber huts” to help run the network.

Additionally, the city has reworked transportation regulations to allow Google Fiber to put 200 utility cabinets along big city streets. (The new rules, just approved by the Bureau of Transportation, limit the cabinets to one per block, generally only on high-traffic boulevards, with a 30-day notice to neighborhood associations — and without a requirement for an “art wrap” transportation planners had contemplated.)

The director of Portland’s Office of Community Technology, Mary Beth Henry, said she is optimistic that Portland will be the next city in which Google Fiber will launch.

Responding to a possible Google Fiber overture, CenturyLink, Comcast and Frontier have all announced plans to offer their own gigabit service.

In Central Oregon, Bend-La Pine Schools agreed to a 10-year deal with Fatbeam, which will provide ultrafast Internet through fiber optic cable.

From the Bend Bulletin:

“It will give us a lot more capacity,” said Ben Hansen, director of IT operations for the school district. “Right out of the gate, we’ll get about a 10 times speed improvement between our sites. We already have fast connections, but as time goes on we use more and more data. This allows us to stay ahead of the curve.”

An important factor for the district is qualifying for reimbursements from the Schools and Libraries Program of the Universal Service Fund, commonly called the E-Rate program. It is administered by a nonprofit corporation designated by the Federal Communications Commission to collect and distribute universal service fees, money collected from telecommunications companies required by the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The money is used to fund programs that, among other things, aim to increase access to affordable telecommunications services in rural and/or low-income areas. The district’s contract for current Internet service is expiring, so it followed E-Rate guidelines and put out a request for proposals. Fatbeam was one of the respondents.

Fatbeam will spend $3.6 million to set up the fiber network.


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