Comcast accused of using 2 gig fiber service to exploit Oregon tax law meant for Google Fiber

Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) is being accused of using its pricey, 2 Gbps "Gigabit Pro" service to try to exploit Oregon tax laws that were originally put on the books to lure Google Fiber (NASDAQ: GOOG).

During their last legislative session, Oregon state lawmakers quickly put together laws that mitigated so-called "central assessment," which taxes companies, including telecom operators, based on the value of their brands.

Comcast fought those assessment rules in court, but lost out in a 2014 state supreme court ruling.

But the new law exempts companies that make gigabit-speed services to most Oregon broadband users. The goal, according to the Portland Oregonian, was to lure Google Fiber to the region. But the paper said the law change could have the unintended affect of discounting "tends of millions of dollars" from Comcast's corporate tax bill in the region.

Comcast is currently in the process of rolling out DOCSIS 3.1-powered gigabit-speed services in six markets. None of those markets, however, are in Oregon.

The company does, however, offer its fiber-based Gigabit Pro service in the area. Portland city officials, however, say the $300-a-month service is cost-prohibitive for most local residents, costing around $1,000 just to have fiber rolled to the home. 

But the new law doesn't include language saying a broadband service can't qualify based on price. 

Comcast has applied for the new valuation standard, based on Gigabit Pro. 

"If the application is approved, schools, libraries and local governments across the state would receive significantly less revenue," said Mary Beth Henry, director of Portland's Office of Community Technology, in a letter to state regulators. "This application was not the kind anticipated by the Legislature."

Comcast reps have yet to respond to FierceCable. However, a regional spokesperson, Amy Keiter, told the Oregonian, that Gigabit Pro "is the fastest residential broadband product in Oregon, and we're proud of it."

For more:
- read Oregonian story

Related articles:
Comcast rolls out DOCSIS 3.1-powered gigabit network in Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Miami and Nashville
Comcast pushes back heralded 2 Gbps fiber-to-the-home rollout
Comcast to bring 2 Gig service to six new markets

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