Upton: New Telecom Bill on Fast Track


A new telecommunications law is on the fast track in the House.

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) -- who heads the panel where the first votes will be cast -- said Thursday that he expects the House to pass a major new bill for the Internet age in late April or May.

“Our goal would be to get through the committee before Easter [April 16], and I’d like to think we can have it on the floor for a vote shortly after Easter,” Upton told the Media Institute, a First Amendment organization funded by cable, phone and broadcasting companies.

Senate Commerce Committee chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) has repeatedly said he expects his committee to vote on similar legislation in March.

Upton, chairman of the Telecommunications and the Internet Subcommittee, said that based on recent talks, he expects Democratic cooperation.

“At the end of the day, I certainly expect bipartisan support,” he said. “We are very close to getting there.”

Upton, working with House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Joe Barton (R-Texas), has circulated draft bills that would establish a largely deregulatory regime for providers of what the bill calls “broadband Internet transmission service,” or BITS.

No BITS provider would need approval from a local government to build facilities and sell services.