WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), both members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced the introduction of their Broadband Parity Act, bipartisan legislation that would bring all federal broadband programs to the current definition of what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines as high-speed internet (currently 25/3 Mbps). Their bill would ensure that all communities and entities receiving federal broadband support have access to internet service that is actually at broadband speeds.
“Access to high-speed internet is essential for economic growth, job creation, and an improved quality of life. Unfortunately, in states like West Virginia, many of our rural communities are being left behind as the digital divide grows,” Senator Capito said. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Rosen on this bill that will contribute to our ongoing efforts to close the digital divide by bringing parity on what defines high-speed broadband across all federal broadband programs.”
“In 2019, quality broadband internet connections should be readily available to Nevadans across our state,” said Senator Rosen. “This is especially true for those living in rural communities who depend on reliable internet connectivity to access services such as telehealth and to participate fully in our digital economy. This bipartisan legislation will take concrete steps towards closing the digital divide for all Americans and I’ll continue to work on solutions that bring parity to our communities.”
Currently, there are over twenty federal broadband programs promoting access to fixed broadband service. However, each program follows its own set of guidelines for bandwidth speed. While some programs define an area as “served” when service is at 25/3 Mbps speeds, others define being served as having access to much slower 10/1 Mbps speeds. The discrepancy in bandwidth speeds means that the federal government is often investing in inadequate broadband services.
The bipartisan Capito-Rosen bill will remove inconsistencies in service and improve broadband access across the country, which is an essential step toward all Americans having equal access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunity.