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Google Fiber Is Officially Making Its Way To Portland 153

An anonymous reader writes This week the Portland City Council has approved a franchise agreement with Google to bring its fiber service to Portland. "As a result of the unanimous vote, Google will be subject to a five percent 'franchise fee' on its video revenues. It won't have to pay a three percent 'PEG' fee that Portland otherwise charges rival Comcast, but it will offer free Internet service for Portland residents for a $300, one-time fee. It'll also provide free Internet service to some to-be-determined nonprofits, in addition to providing a total of three free Wi-Fi networks in various parts of the city."
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Google Fiber Is Officially Making Its Way To Portland

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  • WHICH PORTLAND (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 16, 2014 @08:55AM (#47244991)

    Oregon, in case you're interested.

    • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:02AM (#47245041)

      Well, of course. Maine is still not allowed on the internet. It's unfair, but it's the only way to make sure that Stephen King never has access to a blog.

    • by andrewa ( 18630 )
      I find it amusing that the referenced article abbreviates to Oregon as "Oreg.", rather than the standard "OR", or the much older (but still used) "ORE."... As long as they don't pronounce it "Ory-gone"....
      • Yeah. The official alternate pronunciation is "Oreegun".

        I really cannot understand the confusion of Portland OR with Portland ME. One has Portlandia, the Wildwood, and the setting for the Grimm stories. The other has... uh, lobster.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    's/rt//' and I'm happy...
    --- a Pole

  • Google Fiber Is Officially Making It's Way To Portland? Its incredible!

    • by Threni ( 635302 )

      This is London calling. We're all *amazed* at this development... it can't be long before even sunny Philadelphia is blessed with this product.

  • Government shakedown (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:05AM (#47245053)

    It's amazing that these governments still get away with this stuff. If you don't have several choices for internet providers in your location, maybe it's because no one wants to pay a "franchise fee" and a "PEG fee" and give away free service to your city government officials' friends. Or maybe it's because your local city council hasn't "approved" it.

    • by Kagato ( 116051 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:43AM (#47245313)

      Outside of Airline Tickets we have no laws requiring prices for goods and services to includes taxes and fees. Comcast's prices are always exclusive of taxes and fees. They simply tack on franchise fees to the bill as a pass through to the consumer.

      What does cost real money is right of way leases. In most places the vast majority of utility poles are owned by the local power and phone providers. They demand a price per month per pole. That ads up when it's thousands or tens of thousands of utility poles. Going below ground is no cheaper. That involves right of way easements for both public and private property, in addition to repair of roads and sod. Assuming that the land holder even wants to deal with you.

    • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

      The city owns assets that Google needs to use: right-of-ways, utility poles, building space, electricity, etc. They should just allow access to Google and any other company that wants to use it without compensation?

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        Would you rather have more choices for internet providers or more money in your city's treasury? I'll take more choices for internet providers. Because I'm not on the city payroll.

        • As a taxpayer, I'd prefer that the companies who want to make a profit using city resources pay the costs of maintenance and upkeep and installation of those resources. That's what a franchise fee is.

          They aren't paying a PEG fee because they aren't a cable TV provider. PEG stands for "public, education, and government" and is what pays for the information channels on the cable that deal with public access, schools, and government.

          Since both of those fees are passed directly on to the consumer, it is ludic

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          We wont' have any choice without infrastructure.
          It's a nominal fee for service from the city.
          It's not,like it's moved to Ireland and sat on. IT's actual used for something local.

      • by Kagato ( 116051 )

        Local governments rarely own many utilities poles. They are usually owned by the incumbent telco and the electrical providers. Cable companies pay a good chunk of change to the telcos and power companies, though who knows if that's included in the basic rate or the franchise fee.

        Cities often own right of ways for main boulevards and a good chunk of the so-called franchise fee is comprised of those right of way fees. Though a good chunk of fee really just offsets the ongoing maintenance the city is on the

    • by oneiros27 ( 46144 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:57AM (#47245421) Homepage

      As someone who manages a PEG channel -- I agree, the fees can be excessive, and they're just passed right through to the consumer, so it's effectively just a tax on those who buy fixed line video services.

      However, they should be equal across all providers, so to not hit them all with it equally means that you're favoring one over another, and as these agreements typically span 10-15 years, odds are there's one out there that has it.

      As for the free service -- our town doesn't force them to connect up any non-profits, only government buildings. It's possible that other towns do that, but again, this would just mean that you're favoring a given group over another. I'd much prefer to see free (even if low speed) wifi covering our downtown area than picking and choosing which non-profits get special access.

      • However, they should be equal across all providers, so to not hit them all with it equally means that you're favoring one over another, and as these agreements typically span 10-15 years, odds are there's one out there that has it.

        PEG fees apply to cable TV providers because PEG channels are on the cable TV. Google fiber isn't cable TV, it's Internet. You might have an argument for Internet infrastructure providers to pay a fee to support PEG web services, but that's not part of the existing franchise structure and so would be something new specifically to ding Google (and their customers). If you apply it to Google, then to be fair you'd have to apply it to the internet side of Comcast, too.

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        If GOogle FIbre was PEG, you would be right but they are not so no fee.

        And no they aren't excessive.

    • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @11:02AM (#47245993)

      I'm sorry, what are you outraged about? No one is giving free service to "city government officials' friends". And having my local city council approve a city wide rollout of a new service is kinda what a city council is FOR. When something affects an entire city, yeah, I want it to go through the city council.

      As for the fees, I've started a small business. There were fees. I registered, did some paperwork, what about it? There SHOULD be a registry of businesses, with paperwork on who started them. That's a value to me, and to the city. The fees were negligable. I live in Portland. If you can't afford the tiny little paperwrork fees, your business sucks.

      You sound like someone who hates government, just because. I quite like that there's someone out there with an actual strategic plan, managing services and paying attention. There's incredible valued added in that. My business is quite helped by decent roads, electrical lines(I wouldn't be able to operate my machines with spotty service), etc etc etc. It's been my experience that people that are pissed at government just take for granted all that they GET from having a stable system in place to run our society. That it IS taken for granted is, to me, a sign of it's success.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        Franchise fee and PEG fee (which was waived) are 8% total. That's hardly negligible. And free service for "some" non-profits? How is it legitimate to tell a business they must give freebies to "some" people (surely not friends of city officials) in order to do business?

        Fewer government-imposed barriers and artificial costs should mean more choices for internet service. More choices would be good.

        • They didn't "tell" the business to give freebies to non-profits. Google comes in and proposes this, and then likely uses it as a negotiating point to get the PEG fees waived, since they are basically absorbing those costs directly through the services provided.

          • by Kohath ( 38547 )

            That's not really much different. In general, governments shouldn't be negotiating for free service for "some".

            • Given the incredible good work done by a LOT of non profits, why NOT? Google's OK with it, or they wouldn't have agreed to it. Why the hell SHOULDN'T governments negotiate for free service for non profits? Why the hell shouldn't governments negotiate for free services for anyone? What's wrong with that? Are you just one of those people that can't be happy when your neighbor gets something good and you don't?
              • by stdarg ( 456557 )

                How about because of equal protection before the law? The government should be negotiating on behalf of all the people it represents.

                • by geekoid ( 135745 )

                  Are you really that simple? really?

                  • by stdarg ( 456557 )

                    Constitutional issues often come down to simple principles.

                    Equal protection is simple, but hugely important.

                • by ewieling ( 90662 )

                  How about because of equal protection before the law? The government should be negotiating on behalf of all the people it represents.

                  "The most common type of tax-exempt nonprofit organization falls under category 501(c)(3), whereby a nonprofit organization is exempt from federal income tax if its activities have the following purposes: charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering amateur sports competition, or preventing cruelty to children or animals. "

                  • by stdarg ( 456557 )

                    That's nice of you to do, but I don't think there should be tax advantages for doing nice things.

                    And while there are good non-profits, there are also bad non-profits that do nothing for society. Why should someone benefit from going around giving religious education? I think that's really stupid. Hopefully religious work will lose tax exempt status soon as more people turn against it.

                    And why should this special treatment be limited to non-profits? Presumably you're not a non-profit, you're an individual/sma

              • It's the "some" that's troublesome. Look, you want to require free service for all nonprofits? Fine. No problem. Some? Now you've got everything you need for corruption.
                • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                  Exactly. Change it to "100 non-profits chosen at random from a list of all non-profits listed in the city" and the corruption problem is mostly solved -- though you still have rate-payers implicitly subsidizing service for random non-profits for some unknown reason.

                  • Oh God... No.

                    I help with the hardware grants program at Free Geek. I've seen and interacted with just about every non profit there IS in Portland, and handed over computer gear to most of them. There are some non profits that do AMAZING work. Free Geek is one of them. There are a LOT of non profits that do... Stuff.

                    If we're going to hand out kick as internet connections, I want them going to the Non Profit organizations that do a lot of immediate good work. I love the Portland Fruit Tree project. They a

      • People who hate big government don't hate it because of power lines, roads, and the post office. They hate it because government grabs more power, which it uses to grab more money, and on and on in a vicious cycle. This concentration of power attracts the worst kind of sociopaths, which just make things worse because all they want to do is obtain more power for themselves. Then, the social engineering starts, and you have people carrying out grand experiments with no care for the results. Cultures die li

  • Why can't we have nice things too?
  • by LookIntoTheFuture ( 3480731 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:14AM (#47245113)
    OK. They are really stretching the word "free" here. Free = $300 + greedily scooping up your data with this service now or in the future? No, that's far from free.
    • Re:$300 = free? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Scutter ( 18425 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @09:21AM (#47245167) Journal

      OK. They are really stretching the word "free" here. Free = $300 + greedily scooping up your data with this service now or in the future? No, that's far from free.

      Compared to the anal probing from Comcast et. al.? Yeah, it's free.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Get a $10 per month VM and run a SOCKS proxy over SSH. Let them "greedily scoop up" a bunch of encrypted bits :-D

        HAHAHA, captcha is "robbed"

    • by thaylin ( 555395 )
      The service is free.. The setup is not free. So they are offering the service for free......Also please point out where they scoop up your data....
      • Re:$300 = free? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by geekoid ( 135745 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <dnaltropnidad>> on Monday June 16, 2014 @10:51AM (#47245885) Homepage Journal

        It is a falsehood to separate the costs when you have no option then their equipment to get the service. They in inextricably linked. So no, not free.
        It's a great price for the service, I can't wait for it to get done, and I think it's long over due for this level of competition.
        But you statement is a falsehood based on years of market conditioning.

        • by Kjella ( 173770 )

          Or simply the ambiguity of the language. If I can get water from my own well I'd probably say I have "free water" even if I once paid someone $300 to dig the well because the marginal cost of another bucket is zero. If there was one or several bids or I did it with $300 worth of my own labor, doesn't really matter. I don't really see a problem with Google saying a $300 one-time fee for "free Internet" service forever after. Certainly if you've already sunk the cost and is selling the house, then it's perfec

          • by geekoid ( 135745 )

            With the well analogy, you could also dig your own well, or trade effort; So your neighbor helps you an in exchange you help them.
            You have many options.

            Sine with this case you have no other options, saying free is marketing BS.
            On the plus side, the are very upfront about it and don't try to hide it.

        • by Bengie ( 1121981 )
          Nothing is ever "free". Even if Google absorbed all of the costs, it means something somewhere would have to get more expensive, and follow all the connections and the true cost just gets passed on. After saying that, the customer is getting the service for free and is even getting the installation at a below-cost price.

          In one way, being that the customer is getting charged below costs, you could say Google is paying them. It does require perverting normal logic a bit.
      • ... please point out where they scoop up your data....

        It's right here in the name ---> "Google".

    • Sounds like someone's a bit jealous. :) Here in KC, you typically have to pay an install fee for Internet and then pay a monthly fee for the service. With Google Fiber, you buy the equipment and get the service free.

    • They are really stretching the word "free" here. Free = $300 + greedily scooping up your data with this service now or in the future?

      As opposed to the Comcast service I'm stuck with, which had a $150 setup fee (that I eventually got them to waive, after a month) and a $150 a month recurring charge, and data caps, and anti-net-neutrality lobbying, and I can't run a home server (so something like a Synology disk station directory sync daemon is technically against their TOS), and you can bet they're devouring my data like it was coke off a hooker's ass.

      If I could pay Google $150 extra to not deal with Comcast and their attendant misery, I'

    • by Cyfun ( 667564 )

      Except Comcast already greedily scoops up your data, but then they insert ads and throttle traffic. With Comcast's approx $60 a month for service, Google's would pay for itself within half a year. Call me crazy, but for some reason I'd prefer my data being treated fairly + not paying out the ass.

  • Google Fiber Is Officially Making Its Way To Portland

    They'll be pleased and surprised in Dorset by this.

  • Or will google just over pay for that channel that has big lack of availability do to comcasts high price for it.

  • "Fuck Portland, come to my city"
    - Sincerely,
  • it's a great deal, you can pay via payments or up front, but can we stop with that 'pay us money, and get 'free' service?

    I'm really looking at you Amazon and your pay 99 a year and get free shipping.

    Again, Great deal, cheap price, good speeds for that price, ...not free.

    It just occurred to me I should find out is it's one time fee per customer, or per address.

  • by whistlingtony ( 691548 ) on Monday June 16, 2014 @10:42AM (#47245789)

    Speaking as a Portland resident.... EEEEEEEEeeeeee! I hope this goes through. This has been done in other cities. Should I be rounding up my neighbors now so we can all say "right here!" together when they offer it? Anyone have the scoop on these "fiber rallies" that the article speaks of? Anyone have any idea how many neighbors I'd need to be effective?

    P.S. Fuck Comcast.

  • "the Portland City Council has approved a franchise agreement with Google"

    We Slashdotters are all opposed to franchise agreements, right? Why not just "let them build it" without a "franchise agreement"? No agreement necessary, just build the infrastructure.

  • Google has not selected Portland, OR. This article discusses a law that was passed to entice Google to come to Oregon.

    "Google is not expected to make any final decisions about whether Portland will get Fiber until year's end, but having a cable franchise deal in place helps pave the way."

If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith. -- Albert Einstein