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 for Hawai‘i to effectively compete in the global economy to support its community with necessary essential services, including education, healthcare, and social services, the State must invest in its broadband infrastructure to ensure that every citizen has access to robust, reliable, and affordable broadband services. 

Since the Taskforce Report, two editions of the Hawaiʻi Broadband Strategic Plan (2012 and 2020) were published, outlining the broadband goals for our state. In August 2021, the governor’s office designated the University of Hawaiʻi as the lead coordinator of all broadband initiatives in the state. Today, this effort is called Connect Kākou and is led by Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke, who was appointed to the project by Governor Josh Green. Connect Kākou includes the the University of Hawaiʻi (UH), the Hawaiʻi Broadband and Digital Equity Office (HBDEO), the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), and multiple other state and county partners.

The goals outlined in both versions of the Strategic Plan and the Task Force Report have since been adapted into benchmark goals in the Hawaiʻi BEAD Five-Year Action Plan published in July 2023, which defines the top priorities for broadband and digital equity investments, the challenges and barriers our State will face, and the projects planned and underway to achieve universal service by 2030.

Below is a timeline of the activities to date that Hawaiʻi has accomplished, as well as other important milestones achieved during the #InternetForAll era.

Timeline

  • August 5, 2021: The State delivers a brief on the background of broadband and digital equity coordination in the state following the COVID-19 emergency. 
  • August 22, 2021: The governor’s office formally announces the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) as lead coordinator for all state broadband initiatives.
  • January 2022: Department of Budget and Finance (B&F) executes a contract for Capital Projects Fund (CPF).
  • March 9, 2022: UH publicly launches the Broadband website.  
  • March 2022: UH releases a Request for Proposal (RFP) for site survey and pre-permitting work. 
  • May 13, 2022: National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) releases Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for BEAD, Digital Equity, and Enabling Middle Mile Infrastructure Programs.
  • June 18, 2022: The State submits the BEAD Planning funds application.
  • July 2022: The State submits the Digital Equity Planning Grant application.
  • September 22, 2022: The State submits CPF grant and program plans.
  • November 1, 2022: NTIA issues an award for the BEAD Planning Funds application, with the period of performance beginning December 1, 2022.
  • November 10, 2022: NTIA issues an award for the Digital Equity Planning Grant application.
  • November 30, 2022: NTIA issues a press release on the Internet for All awards to Hawaiʻi and holds a press conference with the governor.
  • April 27, 2023: Treasury approves of Hawaiʻi CPF plan to fund the interisland northern submarine fiber path and connectivity for the Hawaiian Public Housing Authority (HPHA).
  • June 30, 2023: NTIA announces $149.5 million for Hawaiʻi under the BEAD program.
  • July 29, 2023: The State submits its Five-Year Action Plan to NTIA.
  • November 7, 2023: Governor Josh Green, in collaboration with Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke, announces the statewide broadband initiative Connect Kākou as an umbrella to the BEAD and Digital Equity effort, kicking off the Hawaiʻi BEAD Initial Proposal public comment period.
  • December 8, 2023: UH releases a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the State’s BEAD Challenge Process Portal.
  • December 27, 2023: The State submits its Initial Proposal Volume 1 & 2 to NTIA.
  • January 25, 2024: UH announces public-private partnership with Ocean Networks to construct the Hawaiian Islands Fiber Link (HIFL).
  • March 26, 2024: NTIA issues a press release on the acceptance of Hawaiʻi’s State Digital Equity Plan. Hawaiʻi is now eligible to be awarded Digital Equity Act Capacity Grants.
  • April 30, 2024: Lieutenant Governor Sylvia Luke announces the $1 billion Google Pacific Connect Initiative to construct new fiber-optic internet subsea cables between Hawaiʻi, Japan, the continental U.S., the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Guam, strengthening Hawaiʻi’s transpacific cable resilience.