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 CapitoPress beat lawmakers to keep trophy in annual softball game Bipartisan senators propose forcing EPA to set drinking water standard for 'forever chemicals' August recess under threat as yearly spending bills pile up MORE (R-W.Va.) and Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanSecond ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators Key endorsements: A who's who in early states Overnight Health Care: Poll finds most Americans misunderstand scope of 'Medicare for All' | Planned Parenthood chief readies for 2020 | Drugmakers' lawsuit ramps up fight with Trump 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 McKinleyBipartisan former EPA chiefs say Trump administration has abandoned agency's mission Thirty-four GOP members buck Trump on disaster bill Divisions emerge over House drug price bills MORE (R-W.Va.) and Peter WelchPeter Francis WelchHillicon Valley: Hacker group targeted electric grid | House Democrats press CBP over facial recognition program | Senators offer bill to protect health data | Groups file FCC complaint over carriers' use of location data Lawmakers grapple with deepfake threat at hearing Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote 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.