The process of bringing Google Fiber to new markets is a lengthy and messy political one as we’ve seen since the initiative first started in mid-2012. Google’s map of potential Fiber cities shared just over a year ago is mostly unchanged save for the southeast region moving to the upcoming Fiber cities category earlier this year.
Local government in Portland, a potential Fiber city on Google’s radar, actually unanimously approved plans for Fiber shortly after Google shared its potential expansion cities. More recently, though, Oregon lawmakers have created minor road blocks ahead of Fiber’s possible expansion to Portland. The kicker here is that the proposed legislation was actually intended to make Portland more appealing to Google…
The Oregonian (via Ars Technica) first reported the legislative accident which began when lawmakers attempted to adjust a nuanced tax law that was unfavorable to Google’s Fiber efforts in Portland. The proposed changes were found even less favorable by Google, however, prompting a response to the proposed legislative changes.
But Google executive Darcy Nothnagle warned of problems in a letter to lawmakers on Thursday, a day before the vote. Google appreciates Oregon trying to “offer a fair and competitive landscape for companies that are looking to invest in infrastructure enabling high speed internet services,” but the bill as written “mak[es] it extremely unlikely that any company would make large investment in a new fiber network,” the company wrote.
The problems specifically regard the new legislature requiring services to offer at least a gigabit of speed. Fiber and similar services promise up to a gigabit, though, illustrating the misunderstanding on behalf of the bill writers. The other issue involved a short-lived tax reduction that would eventually result in tax rates twice as high as other states, according to Google.
The proposed legislative changes in their unfavorable form won’t have a lasting impact on Portland’s prospective Fiber availability, however, as lawmakers are expected to quickly adjust the new language to satisfy Google as originally intended. The hiccup does highlight the behind-the-scenes work that goes on to bring Google’s super high-speed Internet service to a region though.