By Kim Hart - 02/19/10 04:51 PM EST
IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano says Congress needs to pay more attention to building a digital infrastructure rather than just creating traditional manufacturing jobs.
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal today, Palmisano says "without pervasive broadband, our country will not be prepared for a new world that is increasingly built on the fusion of the physical and the digital," especially as the U.S. lags behind other countries in Internet deployment and speed.
"Policy makers in Washington should think about that as they consider another round of economic stimulus," he said.
In just three years, the world's Internet traffic is expected to total more than half a zettabyte--or a trillion gigabytes. That can unleash a new wave of applications and jobs, if the U.S. doesn't miss it's chance to leverage the opportunity.
"Congress and the administration need to recognize something that industries like IT and telecommunications understood two decades ago," he wrote. "They were transformed by smarter systems that rely on broadband technology. Now sectors where much of our future growth lies, and where the government tends to play a large role—such as energy, health care and transportation—need to jump on the bandwagon."
"This will require both private-sector investment and enlightened government policy," he said. "But one thing is clear. America's broadband infrastructure needs an upgrade."