The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission says making broadband internet access universally available is this century’s version of building highways or extending railroads coast-to-coast, reports the Associated Press. In a Nov. 24 speech at the University of Arkansas, Julius Genachowski said broadband is the "critical infrastructure challenge of our generation." As part of the federal stimulus package, the FCC is charged with creating a plan—due in February—to make broadband available everywhere in the country. The stimulus money also includes $7 billion in grants for broadband access, and the recipients will be announced soon, Genachowski said. About 10 percent of the country doesn’t have broadband available, and the rate of "non-adoption" by people who don’t use broadband–even though the infrastructure is in place–is 37 percent, he said. "Often, people don’t see the value of internet in their homes or don’t have the skills necessary to take advantage of connectivity," Genachowski said. "Others cite price. They aren’t able to afford the service or the hardware." But broadband access is critical for the country’s economic development, Genachowski said, adding that putting the infrastructure in place will create jobs, help small businesses, and make the U.S. more competitive. A report released last week by the FCC reveals the challenges the administration faces in spurring more broadband use: Nearly 90 percent of families with incomes of $100,000 or higher subscribe to broadband services, compared with 35 percent of families with incomes of $20,000 or less…

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