Rural/Urban Digital Divide Bill Re-Introduced

A bipartisan Senate duo has re-introduced a bill to try and close the rural-urban digital divide.

The Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act would require the FCC to create a national standard for what constitutes reasonably comparable broadband service is when it comes to rural areas vis a vis urban areas and insure that those rural areas are getting it.

Related: Answering the Call for Rural Broadband

The bill is co-sponsored by Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and is just the latest in a number of efforts in Congress and at the FCC to bridge the speech and geographic gaps as the country prepares for an IoT-driven, next-gen broadband world where lack of access to broadband will be an even greater handicap to full digital citizenship.

“In the 21st century innovation economy, access to high-speed internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” said Hassan. “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.”

The bill was first introduced in 2018.

The pair also teamed up in February on a letter to FCC chair Ajit Pai asking that the FCC use crowdsourcing to better identify where broadband is or isn't. Pai has conceded FCC data is not good, and has said he is open to suggestions for making it better, which he has definitely been getting, from the Hill and elsewhere. 

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.