FCC Rural Broadband Office Bill Introduced

Rural broadband issues continue to loom large inside the Beltway.

The latest chapter in that story is the introduction of the Office of Rural Broadband Act, which would create an office at the FCC to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration in the effort to close the rural digital divide.

Related: Senators Challenge Rural Broadband Map

Sponsoring the bill are Sens. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.). 

NTCA-the Rural Broadband Association was understandably pleased. 

“With much-needed initiatives underway within multiple agencies to promote a shared national vision of universal broadband access, it is more important than ever to ensure that such efforts are coordinated with and complement one another,” said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield.

Elsewhere this week, cable operators and other broadband providers asked senators to use the Farm Bill to remove a long-time thorn in their sides, rural broadband subsidies that allow for major overbuilding of existing providers.

Also this week, FCC chair Ajit Pai agreed to extend the challenge window for the map the FCC will use to hand out over $4.5 billion in broadband subsidies to help close the digital divide.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.