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

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

The bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2019 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.

“In the 21st century innovation economy, access to high-speed internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” Senator Hassan said. “Our bipartisan legislation takes an important step to ensure that people and businesses in both rural and urban communities are able to receive similar access to wireless and broadband services.”

“As we work to close the digital divide across the country, setting a national standard is important in order to measure progress,” Senator Capito said. “I’m proud to sponsor this bill because by requiring the FCC to set that standard, we can better identify how we can build out broadband quicker and more effectively across rural areas like West Virginia.”

As part of their efforts to close the rural-urban digital divide, Senators Hassan and Capito first introduced the Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act in 2018. The two Senators also recently joined their colleagues from both sides of the aisle in sending a letter to Chairman Pai at the FCC advocating for an additional public feedback mechanism that would utilize crowdsourced data to empower consumers and states to help inform broadband coverage maps and report any lack of broadband access to the FCC. Additionally, Senators Hassan and Capito serve together as Honorary Co-chairs for the Global Women’s Innovation Network (WIN), an organization that provides a dynamic forum for women who are passionate about innovation.