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Q & A: Why is There a "7% Fee" for "Internet Access Services" on My Bill?

Post Date:03/08/2019

Did you see a “7% fee” for “Internet access services” on your internet bill? Or a "City License Fee" as a line item? You’re not alone.

Customers of a national internet service provider have been asking for more information about the language on their billing statement that attributes a seven percent "City License Fee" to the City of Hillsboro. Here are the facts:

  • The City of Hillsboro does not charge an "Internet access services" fee to customers.
  • Only the national internet service provider can answer why it added the "Internet access services" fee on customer bills.

There must be more to this story. Why is this a discussion?

All communications providers do pay for use of the community-owned right-of-way space, which includes:

  • Community-owned roads
  • Sidewalks
  • The space between roads and sidewalks

Countless companies want to use the community’s right-of-way space for infrastructure. Without right-of-way fees, the City would risk the right-of-way being overrun by companies of all different levels of experience, accountability, and reputation.

Maintaining the community’s right-of-way is a priority for City staff, but takes time and costs money. In return for direct access to customers, companies pay to help mitigate those costs and limit community disruption due to construction. Use of the right-of-way saves them from having to acquire their own pathways to customers.

Why is this coming up now?

In 2018, the City provided clarification to communication service providers that internet service providers are required to pay for use of the community’s right-of-way space.

Okay, but why is this being labeled a "7% fee" on "Internet access services" on my bill?

If a national internet provider chooses to pass its right-of-way costs along to customers and list a “7% fee” on “Internet access services” on customer bills, that decision is the company’s choice to make. The City does not charge an “Internet access services” fee to customers.

Companies can charge customers a line item for other costs of doing business, such as:

  • Postage
  • Staples
  • Paper towels
  • Business license fees
  • Corporate taxes

Decisions on charging customers for these and other costs of doing business are up to the company.

Will the City's internet service pay for right-of-way access?

The City’s high-speed internet service will pay for use of the community's right-of-way space. This is a cost of doing business and the use of a community asset. Every communications provider pays for that right-of-way access.

Who can I contact with more questions?

If you have any additional questions about your bill or internet service, please feel free to reach out to your internet service provider for more information. If you have any additional questions about the City of Hillsboro, feel free to call us at 503-681-5204. We look forward to speaking with you.

 

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