Today, Congressmen Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) introduced the Rural Broadband Network Advancement (RBNA) Act, which would invest in expanding broadband access in rural areas.
"My district is the only congressional district in the country where broadband is available to less than half the population," Mullin said. "Rural consumers need the bandwidth necessary to deliver educational opportunities for children and adults, telemedicine care for patients, news and entertainment content to consumers, and more markets for businesses' goods and services. This legislation will ensure high cost, rural areas are not stranded and rural Americans are not left behind in the Internet economy."
"Access to rural broadband is no longer a luxury, it's important for ensuring folks can compete and connect on a global scale," said Peterson. "I've been fighting for years to ensure rural America has the same kind of access as those living in our urban areas."
The RBNA Act establishes a new program at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that would collect Network User Fees from edge providers (Netflix, AmazonVideo, etc.) based on the data transported over the last mile of networks. User fees would then be invested by the rural broadband providers to help build, maintain and operate robust broadband networks in high cost rural areas. All rural broadband providers would be eligible for the program if they provide broadband access in high cost rural areas to fewer than 100,000 customers within a state and provide the speeds required by the FCC.
In Oklahoma's Second District, less than half of the residents have access to broadband Internet, a luxury most people across the country have enjoyed for years. More than 45 percent of individuals living on tribal land in Oklahoma don't have access to high-speed internet.