A group of senators launched a new caucus to promote broadband deployment on Tuesday.
The so-called Senate Broadband Caucus was founded by five upper chamber lawmakers from states with significant rural populations, where connectivity is often limited.
“From online business startups to digital learning and telemedicine, broadband access is critical to the strength of our economy and our communities,” said Rep. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoLobbying world Republicans threaten floor takeover if Democrats weaken filibuster Like it or not, all roads forward for Democrats go through Joe Manchin MORE in a statement. “Unfortunately, the digital divide between rural and urban America is growing as essential broadband infrastructure falls behind in certain parts of the country,”
The other members of the caucus are Sen. Angus KingAngus KingFor 2022, the Senate must work in a bipartisan manner to solve the American people's concerns This week: Democrats face crunch time on voting rights Democrats skeptical of McConnell's offer to talk on election law MORE (I-Maine), Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharApple warns antitrust legislation could expose Americans to malware Big Tech critics launch new project Overnight Defense & National Security — Texas hostage situation rattles nation MORE (D-Minn.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampHarry Reid, political pugilist and longtime Senate majority leader, dies Virginia loss lays bare Democrats' struggle with rural voters Washington's oldest contact sport: Lobbyists scrum to dilute or kill Democrats' tax bill MORE (D-N.D.) and John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanPostal Service expansion into banking services misguided Arkansas governor backs Sarah Huckabee Sanders to replace him Arkansas attorney general drops bid for governor, says she will work with Sanders MORE (R-Ark.).
That divide remains stark between the internet access available to most urban Americans and the limited options available to people in rural areas.
Roughly thirty-four million Americans in total lack access to high-speed internet, according to a Federal Communications Commission report in January.
Thirty-nine percent of rural Americans lack access to high-speech broadband — a number that grows for 41 percent of people on tribal lands — compared to only four percent of urban Americans.
Internet service providers often don’t do as well hooking up rural areas both because households are often remote and because it is sometimes economically implausible to build out service there, given the small number of residents.