House Bill Seeks to Make Subscription TV More Competitive

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Faster and cheaper Internet access could come from a new telecommunications bill approved last night by the House.

It would end the monopoly held by many cable TV companies, encouraging more telephone companies and other providers to get into the broadband game.

The legislation passed after a Democratic amendment designed to protect against Internet pricing and access discrimination was rejected.

The bill's author says it will "unleash a race for who can supply the fastest, most sophisticated broadband connections for video, voice and data."

It's supposed to save consumers money, too.

A national franchise process would replace the current system where companies negotiate contracts city by city.

But many Democrats say the measure did too little to ensure that broadband services would be extended to lower income and rural areas. Their amendment to protect Internet users from pricing or access discrimination was rejected.

The majority agreed with telephone and cable providers, who say such regulation would slow expansion of high speed services. The administration says the FCC has the power to deal with abuses.