Gigabit Cities

Gigabites: Google Fiber Pays Up in Portland

TGIF. In today's edition of Gigabites, Google Fiber finds new fees in Portland, the FTTH Council ties fiber broadband to higher property values, AT&T boasts about new community deployments and more.

  • Easy come, easy go. Google Fiber Inc. has been exempted from a requirement in Oregon that obliges cable companies to pay a fee amounting to 3% of revenues in support of public-access, educational and government (PEG) programming. However, in a new franchise agreement with the city of Portland, Google Fiber is now mandated to pay a 3% "digital equity support fee" instead. The deal replaces one that required Google Fiber to offer low-cost Internet service, and instead gives the city government control over a new fund that will be used to expand online access to underserved areas.

    Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) had hoped to take advantage of the same tax incentive that let Google Fiber off the hook for the Oregon PEG fee. However, lawmakers ruled last month that the tax break wasn't intended to support a premium Internet service like the Gigabit Pro tier Comcast sells for $300 per month. Comcast may rest easier now knowing that Google Fiber has been levied its own 3% tax. (See Gigabites: Ting Makes Holly Springs Sing.)

    Meanwhile, Google Fiber still hasn't officially committed to bringing its gigabit Internet service to Portland, but the company won approval to build its first fiber hut in the city earlier this month and has begun to hire local employees.

  • For more gigabit coverage and insights, check out our dedicated gigabit/broadband content channel here on Light Reading.

  • Gigabit broadband pays! In a recent study released by Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) Council Americas, researchers found that fiber connectivity measurably increases the value of multiple dwelling units (MDUs). The value goes up by 8% for rental properties and adds 2.8% to the value of owned properties. The study also found that fast and reliable broadband is the top-rated amenity for apartment and condominium residents.

  • AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is continuing its barrage of press releases on new GigaPower deployments. This week the telco announced expansions in parts of Fresno, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma and San Diego. But while AT&T has been aggressive in its gigabit announcements, the new expansions are, in many cases, only extensions into a handful of new communities. In the Los Angeles area, for example, AT&T's most recent announcement addressed "parts of Palmdale, and surrounding communities," with "initial availability limited to select areas."

  • Also benefiting from gigabit expansion this month is the city of Fairbanks in Alaska. Local provider General Communication Inc. (GCI) (Nasdaq: GNCMA) introduced its "GIG red" service to Fairbanks residents with a promotional event last week. The company also offered free Apple TV devices to new gigabit customers.

  • And finally, two organizations in southern Arkansas -- the Oachita Electic Cooperative (OECC) and South Arkansas Telephone (SATCO) -- are teaming up to create a new company called ARIS that will bring gigabit broadband to residents in the region. According to a news announcement, ARIS will begin offering gigabit service to some customers in September, with a goal of expanding to all 9,500 homes and businesses in the area over the next three years.
  • — Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

    kq4ym 6/29/2016 | 4:34:52 PM
    Re: Gigabit I wonder about those 3% fees doing anything more than becoming a revenue source for the taxing authority. After all those fees aren't hurting Google or any other company "paying" the fees. It's all passed on to the consumer. Ever take a look at the percentage of cable and phone bills that are "fees."
    walterhpdx 6/24/2016 | 4:24:01 PM
    Re: Gigabit Out in Frontier country, we have one tiny community that has Gigabit, but it's  1G downstream, 100Mb upstream.  And that's residential service, NOT business, for $750/month.  So 500/500 sounds good to me!
    KBode 6/22/2016 | 4:39:03 PM
    Re: Gigabit They're just responding by implementing usage caps, so they can get their pound of flesh from another part of the consumer. Some, like AT&T, are making massive moves into the OTT market themselves.
    KBode 6/22/2016 | 4:38:10 PM
    Re: Gigabit Google Fiber pretty much wants virgin territories free of hundreds of years of political infighting and rotting under-city infrastructure. East coast remains a big no show.
    steve q 6/19/2016 | 3:52:12 PM
    Re: Gigabit I wished that google fiber moved into Boston to make Verizon push up the data speed above the 500/500. If FiOS is the best in town the speed and pricing has to change the main issue with Comcast going to a gig still on coax cable. The hope of 5g that still is far away. FiOS is the king only if they have a team that know how to provide it to the customer and when most of today tv have apps they are still pushing a stb to the customer and not using the cloudy for a device
    danielcawrey 6/18/2016 | 12:03:01 PM
    Gigabit This all sounds like really good news for gigabit service. I wonder how having superfast internet will affect the OTT market? Does this mean that broadband providers also offering cable realize the days of traditional pay TV is over?
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