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Rep. Collins Introduces Broadband Tax Break Bill

Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) has introduced a bill that would provide a tax incentive to companies to build out rural broadband, providing a House version of a Senate bill, with both backing up a proposal long-advocated by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

The Gigabit Opportunity (GO) Act would allow companies to defer capital gains taxes when they converted those gains into "long-time" investments into designated Gigabit Opportunity Zones.

That means expensing investments on rural broadband buildouts on the "front end."

Related: Pai: A Healthy Broadcast Industry Is in Public Interest

The goal is to boost competition and speed investment, something Pai has said is an FCC priority for rural areas.

Collins said his bill would "dovetail" with the FCC's proposal to streamline broadband regs, both wired and wireless.

“Countless communities in northeast Georgia and across the country have seen their growth stalled by a lack of meaningful broadband access,” said Collins. “In the twenty-first century, education, jobs and economic success are tied to digital infrastructure, and I’ve introduced the GO Act to increase broadband investment in rural America through smarter, simpler policies based on market competition.”

Related: FCC's Pai: 'Net Neutrality' Is About Government Dictates

The bill is actually dovetailing with another dovetail. It is a companion to one introduced in the Senate last month by Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

The Capito bill would give tax breaks to companies for investing in gigabit-capable expansion into those communities, direct the FCC to release a framework that encourages states, counties and cities to voluntarily adopt streamlined broadband laws and be designated as a “Gigabit Opportunity Zone," and defer capital gains for upgrades and allow companies to expense the cost of creating those zones, as well as allow states to more easily issue tax-exempt bonds.

Pai has launched two proceedings to make it easier to build out broadband, wireless and wired, and has proposed creating Gigabit Opportunity Zones providing such tax breaks and streamlined approvals for buildouts.

(Photo via Rock1997Image taken on Jan. 18, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 3x4 aspect ratio.)

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.