OTTAWA - Michael Ignatieff is promising high-speed Internet access for all rural, remote and northern communities.

The Liberal leader says he'd ensure 100 per cent access within three years of taking power.

He'd use a portion of the proceeds from the next wireless spectrum auction in 2011 to cover the estimated $500 million tab.

Ignatieff says his plan is intended to "bridge the rural-urban divide" and help unite the country.

It's also aimed at improving public services for people in remote areas, allowing them to tap into the digital economy, distance learning and electronic health initiatives, among other things.

The Internet proposal is one of series of platform planks aimed at rural ridings which Ignatieff has unveiled recently.

He says it's shocking that 800,000 Canadians, including 20 per cent of rural residents, don't have high-speed Internet access.

"This isn't just about fancy technology," Ignatieff said Tuesday in a videoconference from Thunder Bay, Ont.

"This is about the national unity of our country, tying us together, making sure that every Canadian has equal access to great health care, great access to education, great access to economic opportunity."