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DENVER (AP) – A bill to overhaul to a ratepayer subsidy for telephone providers has had its first hearing in the Colorado Senate.

The proposal that was heard Monday afternoon would gradually reduce the subsidy until it’s eliminated in 2025.

Lawmakers are expected to vote on it Wednesday.

Supporters say the subsidy is outdated because it was originally used to help companies provide telephone service in rural, underserved areas. Critics say many of those areas have several options.

The bill is opposed by CenturyLink Inc., which has received the bulk of the subsidy in the past. Other providers, including AT&T, support the legislation. It would eliminate subsidies in places where 90 percent of customers have at least five telecommunications providers. Providers working in less competitive areas would still be eligible for the fund.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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