The widespread availability of high-speed broadband networks will "catapult" the US economy into growth and restore its competitive edge in business and science, says Google CEO Eric Schmidt.
His comments, published on Google's official blog, come ahead of the publication later today of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) $7.2bn plan to rebuild America's communications systems as part of a wider government infrastructure regeneration initiative.
Schmidt said the FCC's national broadband strategy will set goals for expanding broadband to unserved and under-served areas, promote greater speeds, and drive consumer demand.
"It will harness this communications technology to urgent national priorities, such as jobs, education, health, energy, and security. In short, the plan will lay the groundwork for investing in America's future," he said.
Schmidt said the US had fallen behind other countries in access to fast networks after inventing the internet. "Long after we recover from this recession, this broadband gap will be a dead weight on American businesses and workers, unless we act now," he said.
He called on Americans to make a "national effort", similar to the space race of the 1960s, to get up to speed.
Providing internet access to every community, including farms and inner cities, as soon as possible was a short-term goal, he said. But the US also needed more ambitious aims, "stretch goals", that tested the limits of American ingenuity.
Schmidt said Google itself planned to build and test an ultra-high-speed broadband network in at least one community. This would offer over 1Gbps, fibre to the home (FTTH) connections at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and possibly 500,000 people.
"We are excited by the amount of support our proposed testbed has received from local communities and individuals," Schmidt said.
He called for the installation of broadband fibre as part of every federally-funded infrastructure project, from highways to mass transit. "And let's deploy broadband fibre to every library, school, community health centre, and public housing facility in the US," he said.
"Ubiquitous broadband connectivity can catapult America into the next level of economic competitiveness, worker productivity, and educational opportunity," Schmidt said.