DENVER (AP) – Lawmakers gave initial approval to an overhaul of a Colorado ratepayer subsidy for telephone providers.

The bill passed its first committee in the Senate Wednesday on a 5-1 vote.

Supporters say the subsidy is outdated because it was meant to help companies provide service in rural, underserved areas that now have several options.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.

The bill seeks to gradually reduce the subsidy until it’s eliminated in 2025.

CenturyLink argues that taking away the subsidy will increase rates.

Another vote is needed before the bill goes to the full Senate.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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