Several Senate Bills Push Rural Broadband Funding

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The U.S. Senate has fully awakened to the need to close the digital divide between rural and urban America.

A bill introduced by Senators John Thune (R-S.D.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and several others, would dedicate 10% of the net proceeds from spectrum auctions mandated by Congress to the buildout of broadband networks in high-cost rural areas.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R. W.Va) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) sponsored a bill that would direct the FCC to coordinate with federal agencies to establish a baseline level of service that ISPs would have to provide to customers when offering a service through a federal broadband support program.

Additionally, Senator Ron Biden (D-Ore.) introduced a bill which would help small ports get federal loans to improve their broadband coverage through the USDA’s Rural Utility Service broadband access loan program.

Finally, a group of Republican Senators led by Ms. Capito and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), announced their counteroffer to President Biden’s broad infrastructure plan, which includes – among several other counters – $65 billion for broadband.

It seems that the Senate is putting on a full court press to seriously address and eliminate the digital divide.