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Legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate this week seeks to establish a national standard to help address the “digital divide” between rural and urban areas.

Sens. Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., on Tuesday announced the Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Act of 2018, a companion to a bill introduced last year in the House.

The measure directs the Federal Communications Commission to collect data about signal strength and network speed in the nation's 20 most populated urban areas.

Rural communities would then only be considered "reasonably comparable" if speeds in those areas met or exceeded the average in cities — a standard that would help ensure that underserved areas gain access to similar broadband and wireless coverage.

“Now, more than ever, broadband is a powerful tool that students and businesses need to compete in a global digital economy,” Capito said in a statement. “While progress has been made, too many rural areas continue to fall behind."

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