Senators launch broadband caucus

Senators launch broadband caucus
© Getty Images

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 CapitoDemocrat Richard Ojeda announces Senate bid after dropping out of presidential race Spending bill to address miners' health care, pensions Manchin warns he'll slow-walk government funding bill until he gets deal on miners legislation 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,”

ADVERTISEMENT

The other members of the caucus are Sen. Angus KingAngus KingCongress struggles on rules for cyber warfare with Iran Democrats brace for round two of impeachment witness fight The Hill's Morning Report - Deescalation: US-Iran conflict eases MORE (I-Maine), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharSanders says he's concerned about lost campaign time during impeachment trial Sanders touts vote against Trump trade deal backed by primary rivals New Hampshire state lawmaker switches support from Warren to Klobuchar MORE (D-Minn.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampSusan Collins set to play pivotal role in impeachment drama Pro-trade group launches media buy as Trump and Democrats near deal on new NAFTA The Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same MORE (D-N.D.) and John BoozmanJohn Nichols BoozmanAppropriators fume over reports of Trump plan to reprogram .2 billion for wall The job no GOP senator wants: 'I'd rather have a root canal' Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid 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.