WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate passed by unanimous consent a bill requiring the Federal Communications Commission to establish a consistent system for collecting data regarding broadband coverage in rural communities.

The legislation — the Rural Wireless Access Act — passed Thursday. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., was one of the bill’s cosponsors.

“This bill ensures our ongoing efforts to close the broadband gap are guided by a realistic understanding of the mobile broadband coverage currently available to rural consumers,” he said in a press release. “I encourage my House colleagues to pass this legislation quickly so we can move forward and deliver on the promise of universal service for our West Virginia communities.”

Manchin added the Rural Wireless Act is “an important step” in closing the gap in internet coverage in the state.

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