Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) introduced a bill on Tuesday aimed at promoting internet access in rural communities.
The Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Act would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to implement a benchmark for rural internet access that is "reasonably comparable" to urban areas.
“Now, more than ever, broadband is a powerful tool that students and businesses need to compete in a global digital economy,” Capito said in a statement. “While progress has been made, too many rural areas continue to fall behind."
Capito is a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, which is aimed at promoting the expansion of high-speed internet access to underserved areas.
According to the FCC, 31 percent of rural Americans and 35 percent of Americans in tribal areas lack access to broadband, compared to just 2 percent of those living in urban areas.
A companion bill was introduced in the House last year by Reps. David McKinley (R-W.Va.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).
“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,” Hassan said in a statement.