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Comcast benefits from Oregon tax break intended for Google

Just about anyone who uses the Internet and is aware of the service is eager to get their hands on Google Fiber, from the ordinary consumer to state lawmakers. That’s why last year saw a change in Oregonian legislation to offer a tax break intended to tempt the company into offering Fiber in the state — but that plan seems to have backfired somewhat.

The change offers lowered property taxes to companies that supply gigabit-speed Internet access, according to a report from Ars Technica. Unfortunately, it doesn’t specify how much a provider can charge for that service, which has allowed that potent symbol of ISP villainy, Comcast, to take advantage of the break.

While Google charges $70 a month for gigabit-speed Internet access, Comcast charges $300 per month for a service that’s twice as fast — and that’s after $1,000 in set-up costs. It’s safe to say that the latter is not the sort of business Oregon is attempting to attract.

“The Legislature is not likely to be that foolish,” said Rep. Phil Barnhart speaking to The Oregonian. He also explicitly stated that the legislation was not intended to benefit Comcast.

However, at this point, the company seems to be the biggest beneficiary of the legislation. While it’s been confirmed that Google would also be eligible for the break, that’s purely hypothetical at this point, as Fiber is not yet being offered in the Portland area or elsewhere in the state.

Individuals might be angered that a company like Comcast can profit while progress on the Google Fiber rollout doesn’t seem to have been accelerated by the tax break, but the real cost is potentially more dramatic. Comcast could avoid paying millions of dollars worth of taxes as a result, which would in turn have a substantial effect on the state’s budget.

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