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WASHINGTON-The House Commerce Committee last week passed a pro-competitive international satellite reform bill that lawmakers predict will save American consumers billions of dollars.

The bill, co-sponsored by Committee Chairman Thomas Bliley (R-Va.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), would privatize the International Maritime Satellite Organization and the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization.

The bill is headed to the House floor soon.

The legislation is welcomed by mobile satellite companies, which have criticized Comsat Corp., the U.S. signatory to United Nations-chartered Inmarsat, for having legal immunity and tax breaks that gives Inmarsat competitive advantage over private satellite providers.

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