Advertisement

The U.S. Senate unanimously backed legislation to tweak how the Federal Communications Commission measures mobile speed and performance in underserved areas.

Proponents say the Rural Wireless Access Act would establish a "consistent methodology" for the FCC to collect data for the Universal Service Fund or similar programs — and thereby ensure that funds to bolster broadband infrastructure are distributed fairly between urban and rural communities.

"Unless we have accurate information about where the coverage gaps actually are, we cannot put a solution in place that improves the high-speed internet service of consumers in rural areas," Senate Communications Subcommittee Chairman Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and the bill's author, said in a statement.

The Competitive Carriers Association, which represents smaller carriers operating in many rural areas, praised the vote and said the bill would provide a "streamlined, reliable and accurate process" for collecting data in areas at risk of being "left behind in the digital world."

"As the FCC considers newly collected data to direct $4.5 billion in Universal Service Fund support for mobile broadband, I hope this action guides the FCC to take further steps to help improve the consumer experience, especially in rural areas," said CCA President and CEO Steven Berry.

The measure now heads to the House of Representatives.

Advertisement
Advertisement