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Senators Hassan and Capito Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help Close the Urban-Rural Digital Divide

The Bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Act of 2018 Would Set a National Standard to Help Ensure that Rural Areas Have Access to Reliable and Fast Broadband


WASHINGTON – Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) today introduced the bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Act of 2018 to help close the urban-rural digital divide and expand access to broadband in rural parts of New Hampshire, and across the country.


The bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2018 directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a national standard for determining whether mobile and broadband services in rural areas are ‘reasonably comparable’ to service provided in urban areas. The bill will help ensure that there is equitable wireless and broadband service in rural and urban areas, which has long be undefined.


“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,” Senator Hassan said. “This bipartisan bill will help bridge the urban-rural digital divide that has persisted for far too long by directing the FCC to establish a national standard to ensure that rural and urban areas have similar access to wireless and broadband services. I will continue working across the aisle to move this commonsense measure forward.”


“Now, more than ever, broadband is a powerful tool that students and businesses need to compete in a global digital economy,” Senator Capito said. “While progress has been made, too many rural areas continue to fall behind. The Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Act will help bridge this digital divide by helping to ensure that rural areas—like those in West Virginia—have the access to high-speed internet that many of our urban communities do. By providing greater access to rural broadband, we can help more communities and businesses compete, grow, and succeed.”


“I thank Senators Capito and Hassan for introducing the bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Act of 2018,” said Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) President and CEO Steven K. Berry. “Many rural locations in the U.S. still lack mobile broadband services comparable to their urban counterparts, and this Act, in keeping with Congress’s mandate, will help ensure these important areas are not left behind in the digital world.”


The Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act was introduced in the House of Representatives last year by Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) and David McKinley (R-WV).


As part of her efforts to close the urban-rural digital divide, Senator Hassan introduced the bipartisan AIRWAVES Act to create a spectrum pipeline to avoid “spectrum crunch”, as well as leverage the success of spectrum auctions to expand broadband technologies in rural areas. Senator Hassan also voted to approve the bipartisan Improving Rural Call Quality and Reliability Act to improve the quality of communication in rural areas and helped introduce the Connected Government Act, which has been signed into law and requires all new federal websites to be mobile-friendly.