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Senator Hassan Joins Bipartisan Group in Introducing Legislation to Strengthen Rural Broadband

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) joined Senators John Thune (R-SD), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Jerry Moran (R-KS) in introducing the bipartisan Rural Connectivity Advancement Program (RCAP) Act of 2021. The bipartisan bill would dedicate a portion of proceeds from congressionally mandated Federal Communications Commission (FCC) spectrum auctions to be used for the buildout of broadband networks, which would help strengthen connectivity in rural communities in New Hampshire and throughout the country.

 

“Access to quality, high-speed internet is a necessity in today’s economy,” said Senator Hassan. “That is why I’m glad to join with Senator Thune in introducing this bipartisan bill that will build on my past bipartisan work to expand rural broadband networks and bridge the urban-rural digital divide. I urge my colleagues to pass this bill, and I will continue working across the aisle to ensure that Granite State families and small businesses have the resources that they need to thrive.”

 

If enacted, the Rural Connectivity Advancement Program (RCAP) would:

 

  • Set aside 10 percent of the net proceeds from spectrum auctions mandated by Congress for the buildout of broadband networks;
  • Require the FCC to utilize the funds provided by RCAP to address gaps that remain in broadband internet access service coverage in high-cost rural areas;
  • Allow the FCC to use the funds provided by RCAP in a technology-neutral manner to address shortfalls in sufficient funding of existing USF High-Cost Programs for the buildout of broadband services

 

Senator Hassan is working to expand reliable broadband access, especially to rural and underserved communities. Senator Hassan recently reintroduced the bipartisan Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act, which would allow state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance rural broadband projects, including public private partnerships like those in New Hampshire, as well as allow the federal government to assist state and local governments in bond payments. The Senator also reintroduced the Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act to help ensure that there is equitable wireless and broadband service in rural and urban areas, which has long been undefined. In addition, Senator Hassan successfully worked to include $7 billion in funding for the E-Rate program in the American Rescue Plan, which will direct funds to help schools provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, including internet service through such equipment, to students.

 

To see bill text, click here.

 

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