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April intro for long-distance data dereg bill

The House Telecommunications Subcommittee plans to introduce a bill by the beginning of April that would deregulate phone companies so they could send high-speed data over long-distance networks, said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of that subcommittee, at a breakfast speech before the U.S. Telecom Association in Washington on Thursday.

In his first telecommunications policy speech as chairman, Upton also said the subcommittee would hold hearings on the bill in May and hoped to pass legislation out of subcommittee before Congress's July recess. That all agrees with what House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) and that committee's ranking member, Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), have said about the bill, which they both expect to pass the House this year.

Tauzin and Dingell sponsored a similar measure in the last session of Congress, but then House Commerce Committee Chairman Tom Bliley (R-Va.) blocked it from even getting a hearing. Although key members expect the bill to pass the House this year, chances for passage in the Senate are much more slim, and no Senator has yet introduced any similar legislation. - Paige Albiniak