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When U.S. Rep. Thomas Bliley, R-Va. announced his decision to retire last year, it was seen as good news for SBC Communications Inc. and the nation's other. regional Bell operating companies (RBOCs).
That's because it seemed to offer an opening in the RBOC's bid to climb out from under regulations restricting their ability to offer high-speed data (or broadband) services across state lines.
Bliley, who chaired the House Commerce Committee, was an opponent of a bill that would have untied the RBOC's hands on the broadband front, and he kept that bill from coming to a vote before the full House.
But now that Bliley is out of the game, the deck has been reshuffled. The new chairman of the Commerce Committee, U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-La., is: not just a supporter of the bill, he is one of its authors.
Tauzin, along with U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., are the co-authors of House Resolution 1542 -- which seeks to deregulate the broadband Internet industry.