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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 CapitoBiden says GOP senators have called to congratulate him McConnell in tough position as House eyes earmark return Graham: Trump should attend Biden inauguration 'if' Biden wins MORE (R-W.Va.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanCut tariffs and open US economy to fight COVID-19 pandemic Senate passes bill to secure internet-connected devices against cyber vulnerabilities Overnight Defense: Trump campaign's use of military helicopter raises ethics concerns | Air Force jets intercept aircraft over Trump rally | Senators introduce bill to expand visa screenings 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 McKinleyEnergy secretary says pipeline setbacks pose national security issue MLB, Congress play hardball in fight over minor leagues Koch campaign touts bipartisan group behind ag labor immigration bill MORE (R-W.Va.) and Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchDemocrats to determine leaders after disappointing election Shakespeare Theatre Company goes virtual for 'Will on the Hill...or Won't They?' Vermont Rep. Peter Welch easily wins primary 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.