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VIDEO: Hawaii Broadband Initiative Makes Debut on Maui

August 23, 2011, 6:21 PM HST · Updated August 24, 5:36 AM
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By Wendy Osher


The information superhighway has taken a new leap with the launch today of the Hawaiʻi Broadband Initiative.

The commitment, announced by Gov. Neil Abercrombie, seeks to provide statewide access to affordable ultra high-speed internet by 2018.

The governor described the project as trans-formative infrastructure saying, “It’s the high-tech version of a road.  This is a pathway.  This is going to enable us not just to communicate as such–it’s going to take us, and take everyone who’s associated with it into a new world of accessibility and communications with one another that’s literally going to be unprecedented,” said Gov. Abercrombie.

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Gov. Abercrombie made the announcement from Honolulu, but the teleconference was broadcast to the neighbor islands in coordination with the state’s high-tech partners.  Here on Maui, key players and partners were able to participate at the Ka’aike media building located at the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College campus.

Deidre Tegarden, the Governor's Maui Liaison (in foreground) was among the Maui attendees at the Hawaii Broad Initiative Launch. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The target connection speed for the Broadband Initiative is 1 gigabit per second, which is 200 times faster than today’s typical household connection speeds.  The plan is to bring 1 gigabit per second of broadband connectivity to all public schools, libraries, public universities and college campuses in the state.

“The Hawai’i Broadband Initiative will help ensure that our state is a global leader and continues to advance in areas like education and healthcare,” said Gov. Abercrombie.

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The governor said the Initiative is particularly important in Hawaiʻi because of the geographic separation of our island state by water.

“We have different islands with different dynamics on every island.  There’s a dispersion of population, and in order for us to communicate with one another, and in order for the young people to participate fully in the 21st Century, this broadband connectivity is going to be absolutely crucial to that,” he said.

The governor said the initiative is not just another in a series of technological moves.  “We want to take it into every household to a level that ensures ubiquitous access,” he said.

“The thing that has bothered me the most from a political standpoint is that there would be a divide–that there would be an over-class and and under-class, not just economically, but we’re talk digitally,” said Gov. Abercrombie.  “We will not have a world in Hawaiʻi that is divided with a new version of class warfare–a new version of class division,” he said.

Maui participants in the Hawaii Broadband Initiative Join in the launch announcement from UHMC. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The state plans to use about $33.6 million in federal stimulus funds received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Some of the ultra high-speed internet benefits the state outlined include:

  • Improving public schools by allowing students and teachers to collaborate wherever they are in the state and the world.
  • Helping to achieve energy goals by protecting the reliability of the state’s electrical grid and utilizing more renewable resources.
  • Improving medical services by developing an integrated health information network that can securely exchange electronic health records, a vital component in helping to contain rising healthcare costs and ensure better patient outcomes.
  • Increasing public employees’ capacity and allowing greater access to government services by the public.

Governor Neil Abercrombie today launched a major economic development initiative to provide statewide access to affordable ultra high-speed Internet by 2018. Photo by Wendy Osher.

The Hawai’i Broadband Initiative has four goals, including: (1)  Ensure ubiquitous access to world-class gigabit-per-second broadband service at affordable prices throughout Hawai’i.  (2) Increase the use of ultra high-speed broadband services and applications for economic development, healthcare, education, public safety, governmental efficiency and civic engagement.  (3) Reduce Hawai’i’s barriers to global participation and ensure equitable access for all islands, including the most remote areas of the state.  (4) Develop and implement a modern regulatory and permitting environment that supports and advances investment in broadband infrastructure and public services.

The Hawai’i Broadband Initiative is being led by the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) and the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) and is supported by the state’s Chief Information Officer, and the University of Hawai’i.

“This is an opportunity for Hawaiʻi really to step forward in a way that I think is almost unprecedented,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

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