Newly Activated State Hotspots Offer 1 Hour of Free WiFi

July 18, 2018, 10:33 AM HST · Updated July 18, 10:33 AM
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File photo 2013 courtesy Queen Kaʻahumanu Shopping Center.  WiFi access at the center was established prior to the current state roll out of WiFi hotspots under a transfer agreement of OTWC to Charter Communications. 

The state’s first wave of free public WiFi hotspots are now active or underway at various locations on the islands of Maui, Molokaʻi, Kauaʻi and Oʻahu. The spots offer one hour of free service per device, per day and is made possible through the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Cable Television Division.

As part of the transfer agreement of Oceanic Time Warner Cable to Charter Communications, the DCCA required Spectrum/OTWC to provide at least 1,000 new public WiFi access points or hotspots in its cable franchise areas throughout the state, within four years of the close of the transaction, which occurred in May 2016.

With respect to these hotspots, Spectrum/OTWC is required to deploy 100 in public parks, civic and other community centers, and other public open areas and gathering places as directed by DCCA, in consultation with Spectrum/OTWC.

While imposing this requirement, DCCA noted that free public WiFi hotspots greatly enhance access to public health, education, and other online services for those that lack internet access in their homes, live in unserved areas, or have other economic barriers to internet access. In addition, such hotspots may also benefit individuals by providing seamless access to internet services without impacting monthly data quotas for mobile phones and other devices.

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“In recognition of the importance of public internet access for Hawaiʻi residents, we have made it a priority to expand connectivity across the state—especially into our rural and underserved communities. It is our hope that this initiative will improve the quality of life for our residents and the general public,” said Governor David Ige.

“We are committed to enhancing access to free public WiFi hotspots across the state,” said Catherine Awakuni Colón, DCCA Director. “In addition to the current rollout, we also negotiated a Public WiFi Partnership program to be deployed in the coming years as a condition of the Hawaiian Telcom-Cincinnati Bell transfer.”

To date 44 of the 100 DCCA hotspots have been designated, with Hawaiʻi Island locations identified and forthcoming. The currently designated locations include:

  • Numerous bus stops around the island of Kauaʻi (active);
  • Business and community gathering places in Hāna and Wailuku on the island of Maui (active);
  • Shared courtyards of the Department of Taxation and Department of Labor and Industrial Relations on Oʻahu (by fall 2018); and
  • Hard-to-serve public areas in Kalaupapa (active) and Kaunakakai (by fall 2018) on the island of Molokaʻi.
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Spectrum/OTWC to date has installed approximately 1,400 new hotspots in compliance with the state’s requirements. DCCA is working to identify additional public access locations to designate the remaining allocated hotspots.

Addresses and exact mapped locations of the state designated and active hotspots can be viewed on the CATV Broadband web page.

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