Rep. Tipton Seeks to Improve Access to Broadband for Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Scott Tipton (CO-03) introduced a bill today, the Reprioritizing Unserved Rural Areas and Locations for Broadband Act (RURAL Broadband Act) which if passed would improve the process for expanding broadband to rural communities. The bill was introduced with Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul Gosar (AZ-04).
“It’s an outrage that rural communities still don’t have the same access to high-speed internet as urban areas,” said Congressman Tipton. “From our children’s ability to do homework, to starting and growing a small business, to online banking, it’s time to bring rural Colorado and rural communities across the country to the 21st Century, and this legislation will do just that.”
“In order to bridge the growing divide between rural and urban communities in this country, we must ensure we are investing in the necessary infrastructure to keep our communities connected,” said Congressman Gosar. “This legislation will help bridge the digital divide in our nation by prioritizing communities who lack access to broadband internet.”
Congress has continued to prioritize the buildout of broadband internet to rural communities, but duplicative efforts by the existing federal system can slow the process. The RURAL Broadband Act would establish better coordination between the USDA’s Rural Utilities Service program (RUS) and the FCC’s Universal Service Fund (USF) to prioritize buildout to areas that currently lack broadband.
The bill would:
- Allow the USDA to support a network in any rural area UNLESS:
- An existing network operated in the area by another broadband provider receives ongoing High Cost USF support; and
- The existing network is at least up to the FCC-specified broadband standard (currently 25/3 Mbps); and
- The existing network is fixed terrestrial (wired or fixed wireless)
Text of the bill can be found here.