McCaskill Requests Study of Rural Broadband and Postal Access

Senator looks to examine lack of access to broadband technology in rural areas, dependence on reliable postal service

clairemccaskillWASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill has requested an examination of the interaction between the lack of adequate access to broadband technology in rural areas and the reliability of Postal Service delivery. Without efficient and effective mail service as a result of recent Postal Service consolidations, rural Missourians are put at an economic and communications disadvantage, the effects of which haven’t yet been properly studied.

“We write to ask that you assess the interaction between the United States Postal Service’s recent operational changes and broadband access in rural communities,” Senators McCaskill and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota wrote in the letter. “Broadband has been a disruptive technology that has allowed people to communicate anytime from anywhere for both personal and professional reasons. But too many rural communities in this country still lack adequate access to broadband, and they rely on the Postal Service for their global connectivity. Without efficient and effective service from the Postal Service, rural Americans are put at a significant economic and personal disadvantage.”

McCaskill is a longtime advocate for postal service in rural communities, and recently backed the Rural Postal Act, a bill that aims to improve postal service, delivery times, and standards in rural communities that have been disproportionately affected by cuts to the Postal Service. The bill—sponsored by Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and also cosponsored by Jon Tester of Montana—would restore overnight delivery, return a faster First-Class mail standard, make six-day delivery permanent, and enact strict criteria the Postal Service would have to meet before closing a post office to ensure that rural communities are still able to easily access the mail system.

McCaskill also recently signed on to a request for the federal government’s top watchdog to review the Postal Service’s calculation of delivery times and standards, and she helped win a one-year moratorium on postal closings until the impact of those closings is fully understood.

Earlier in the year McCaskill co-hosted a bipartisan roundtable on rural postal issues to raise awareness about the critical role of the postal service for rural communities and to urge action on the part of both the U.S. Postal Service and her Congressional colleagues. McCaskill also participated in a roundtable on postal services in the digital age, in which she highlighted the need for the U.S. Postal Service to adapt to changes in technology in a way that takes into account smaller cities, towns and rural communities.

Full text of the letter can be found HERE.