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Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide

Senators offer bill to close rural-urban internet divide
© Greg Nash

Sens. Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Wellons Moore CapitoPassage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act is the first step to heal our democracy Biden's unity effort falters Capito asks White House to allow toxic chemicals rule to proceed MORE (R-W.Va.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanRosen to lead Senate Democrats' efforts to support female candidates Pro-Choice Caucus asks Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions from 2022 budget Senate Democrats call on GAO to review child care access barriers for disabled parents, kids MORE (D-N.H.) introduced a bill on Tuesday aimed at promoting internet access in rural communities.

The Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Act would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement a benchmark for rural internet access that is "reasonably comparable" to urban areas.

“Now, more than ever, broadband is a powerful tool that students and businesses need to compete in a global digital economy,” Capito said in a statement. “While progress has been made, too many rural areas continue to fall behind."

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Capito is a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, which is aimed at promoting the expansion of high-speed internet access to underserved areas.

According to the FCC, 31 percent of rural Americans and 35 percent of Americans in tribal areas lack access to broadband, compared to just 2 percent of those living in urban areas.

A companion bill was introduced in the House last year by Reps. David McKinleyDavid Bennett McKinleyHouse Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - New video of riot unnerves many senators The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Day 1 goes to Dems as GOP fumes at Trump lawyers MORE (R-W.Va.) and Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchLawmakers debate role of prescription drugs and generics in health care costs The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by TikTok - Senate trial will have drama, but no surprise ending Overnight Health Care: New COVID-19 cases nationally drop below 100K for first time in 2021 | CDC warns states against lifting restrictions amid threat of virus variants | Health officials warn COVID-19 eradication unlikely MORE (D-Vt.).

“The people and businesses in our rural communities need the same access that urban centers have to reliable and fast mobile and broadband services if they are to compete in the 21st century innovation economy,” Hassan said in a statement.