Legislation to establish a new standard for measuring mobile speed and performance in underserved areas moved a step closer to reality following a vote in the U.S. Senate.

The chamber unanimously passed the Rural Wireless Access Act, which would establish a "consistent methodology" for the Federal Communications Commission to collect data for the Universal Service Fund or similar programs.

The adjustment, supporters said, would help ensure that federal funding for broadband infrastructure is distributed equitably between urban and rural areas.

"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," Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker, the bill's author, said in a statement.

The measure now heads to the House of Representatives.

Competitive Carriers Association President and CEO Steven Berry, whose group represents many wireless carriers in rural areas, said the bill would provide a "streamlined, reliable and accurate process" for assessing performance 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," Berry said.