WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-M.N) introduced the Office of Rural Broadband Act today with Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-O.R.) signing on as original co-sponsors.
“Affordable internet access is essential for farmers, small businesses, and rural Americans,” said Senator Cramer. “This legislation establishes an office dedicated to helping consumers gain access in previously unreached areas. As the Trump administration continues to make progress on expanding rural broadband, Congress needs to remove unnecessary barriers so more rural Americans can receive the access they need.”
“Broadband infrastructure is critical in our 21st century economy, but many rural communities still lack access to reliable, high speed internet,” said Senator Klobuchar. “Establishing an Office of Rural Telecommunications within the Federal Communications Commission will allow for more effective coordination as we deploy broadband infrastructure to ensure that every family has access to high speed internet, no matter where they live.”
“As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee, I am committed to providing support for programs that will update broadband infrastructure in our rural communities,” said Senator Hoeven. “This bipartisan legislation will help make rural broadband programs more effective and efficient, complementing our efforts to ensure individuals and businesses in rural areas have access to affordable and reliable broadband services.”
“All across Oregon, one of the top issues I hear about is the need to bring fast, reliable internet to our rural areas,” said Senator Wyden. “For education, for jobs, for medicine, broadband is really essential to helping rural communities thrive today. Creating a new Office of Rural Broadband will create a new focus at FCC on making sure every home and business can get online.”
The Office of Rural Broadband Act would require the Federal Communications Commission to establish the Office of Rural Broadband, which would coordinate with USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and the Universal Service Administrative Company to maintain information on current rural broadband initiatives and programs and to ensure their success. It would also coordinate with agencies to remove barriers to broadband deployment to track internet subscription rates in rural areas so we can better understand the problems rural Americans face to accessing broadband.