Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden this week introduced bipartisan legislation that aims to ensure the success of current rural broadband initiatives and to remove barriers to future rural broadband growth in Oregon and nationwide.
“All across Oregon, one of the top issues I hear about is the need to bring fast, reliable internet to our rural areas,” Wyden said. “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.”
Joining Wyden in introducing the Office of Rural Broadband Act on Tuesday were U.S. Senators Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Hoeven (R-ND).
“Affordable internet access is essential for farmers, small businesses, and rural Americans,” Cramer said. “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,” Klobuchar said. “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,” Hoeven said. “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.”
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.