Bill would provide incentives for wireless carriers to lease unused spectrum to rural or smaller carriers in order to expand wireless coverage in rural communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) today introduced bipartisan legislation to increase wireless broadband access in rural communities in Minnesota and across the country. The Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act would provide incentives for wireless carriers to lease unused spectrum to rural or smaller carriers in order to expand wireless coverage in rural communities.

“In today’s global economy, access to high-speed internet is no longer just a luxury – it’s a necessity,” Klobuchar said. “If local business in rural communities are going to thrive in the 21st century economy, they need reliable access to wireless communications that will help fuel innovation and open the doors to new markets around the globe. Our bipartisan bill will expand wireless coverage in rural areas in Minnesota and boost local economies that play a crucial role in powering our state’s economy.”

“The goal of the legislation is to make unused spectrum – the airwaves we use for wireless communications services – more easily available for use in rural communities,” Fischer said. “The growth of mobile broadband use for communication, business, and education continues.  There’s a real demand across the country to commercialize spectrum to meet consumer demands and that need is especially acute in rural parts of the country.”

The Rural Spectrum Accessibility Act would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a program that would provide a 3-year extension of the spectrum license to wireless carriers that lease unused spectrum to rural and smaller carriers, encouraging collaboration between companies to bridge service gaps in rural areas.

Klobuchar is a leader in Congress on promoting widespread broadband access and increasing America’s competitiveness in the global economy. She is a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction on telecommunications issues. She has introduced the Broadband Conduit Deployment Act which would require states to simultaneously install broadband conduits as part of certain federal transportation projects, including projects such as building a new highway or adding a new lane or shoulder to an existing highway. The proposal was advanced by the President’s 2012 Executive Order accelerating broadband infrastructure deployment.

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