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Check out the December 2022 Broadband Update for the latest on broadband efforts in the state.

About ʻApakau ka lā‘spreading of the sun’s rays’

In August 2021, Governor David Ige designated the University of Hawaiʻi System to lead and coordinate a broad scale strategic investment effort to ensure that all of Hawaiʻi’s citizens have access to robust and reliable broadband services.  These investments will be guided by a Strategic Framework to support four essential activities to meet Hawaiʻi’s needs now and into the future.

  • Access, Equity and Literacy:  Every citizen must have access to robust, reliable and equitably priced broadband services and the education and training to make the best use of these services.
  • Last mile:  Broadband networks must serve all Hawaiʻi’s citizens regardless of where they live in urban, rural and hard to reach areas.
  • Middle mile: Hawaiʻi’s remote location requires smart and sustainable investments in middle mile infrastructure including inter-island submarine fiber optic cables, carrier neutral submarine cable landing stations and terrestrial fiber networks to connect all communities to the broadband network
  • Governance and Sustainability: All investments must be crafted to maximize long term, strategic public benefits and shall be governed with sustainability as a core design principle. Regardless of the source of funds, design of governance efforts associated with broadband infrastructure investments should include representation from relevant stakeholders, and tasked to ensure that Hawai‘i continuously benefits from these strategic investments.

“We’re calling it ʻApakau ka lā, ‘spreading of the sun’s rays’ — and it will support critical infrastructure for the future, connecting all of the main Hawaiian Islands. This initiative will not only close the digital divide between the haves and the have-nots, but it will also strengthen us as a community.” 

– Gov. David Ige, State of the State 2022 

A brief history

In 2007, the Hawai‘i Legislature created the Hawai‘i Broadband Task Force to “remove barriers to broadband access, including gaining wider access to public rights-of-way; identify opportunities for increased broadband deployment and adoption, including very high speed broadband services; and enable the creation and deployment of new advanced communication technologies in Hawaiʻi (Act 2, First Special Session 2007). After a year of fact finding, deliberations and report writing, the task force published its final report and recommendations. This report concluded that Hawai‘i must invest in its broadband infrastructure to ensure that each and every citizen has access to robust, reliable and affordable broadband services to enable the State to compete in the global economy and support the community with necessary essential services including education, healthcare, and social services. 

Since the taskforce report, Hawaiʻi has seen two editions of the Hawaiʻi Broadband Strategic Plan. Preceded by the 2012 edition, the 2020 Hawaiʻi Broadband Strategic Plan, outlines the State’s four main goals:

Goal 1: Ensure robust broadband infrastructure to all Hawaiʻi residents

Goal 2: Expand digital inclusion and adoption to achieve digital equity

Goal 3: Enable Hawaiʻi to thrive through a digital economy

Goal 4: Strengthen community resilience through broadband 

 

A once in a generation investment opportunity

Today, more than $400 million is available to the State on both a competitive and non-competitive basis to accomplish these goals. Funding has been dedicated towards middle mile and last mile infrastructure developments with priority to unserved and underserved areas.

This broadband investment initiative will leverage a number of major sources of federal funding: 

  • American Rescue Plan Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund
  • Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021
    • Broadband Infrastructure Program
    • Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program
    • Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program
  • Economic Development Administration (EDA) 
  • Infrastructure and Jobs Act
    • Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program
    • Digital Equity Act Programs
    • Enabling Middle Mile Broadband Infrastructure Program
    • Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program
  • USDA Community Connect and ReConnect Programs

A comprehensive list of federal and state funding opportunities is here.