GOP bill aims to give rural states more Internet access

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) announced that she introduced a bill aimed at ensuring that rural states get their fair share of federal communications services, such as broadband.

Ayotte said her home state currently receives only 37 cents for every dollar it contributes to the Universal Service Fund (USF), a federal rural communications program.

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“In our increasingly digital world, it's critical that rural communities be able to take advantage of the economic and educational benefits of high-speed Internet access,” Ayotte said Wednesday.

The USF Equitable Distribution Act, S. 1766, would ensure that a rural state is guaranteed to receive at least 75 cents for every dollar it contributes to USF.

“A portion of Granite Staters' telephone bills goes to the Universal Service Fund, and there's no reason why we should be shortchanged by a program that's supposed to help deploy critical communications services to every area of the state,” Ayotte said. “The legislation I introduced would reform the Universal Service Fund to ensure that more of the money New Hampshire citizens contribute to the fund is invested in our state instead of subsidizing other states.”

Congress originally created USF to promote availability of phone service, but now primarily sets up broadband in rural schools, libraries and hospitals.