Making broadband Internet access universally available is this century's version of building highways or extending railroads coast-to-coast, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday.

Julius Genachowski said broadband is "a 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 in a speech at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.