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 the State to effectively compete in the global economy to support the community with necessary essential services, including education, healthcare, and social services, Hawai‘i must invest in its broadband infrastructure to ensure that every citizen has access to robust, reliable, and affordable broadband services.
Since the Taskforce Report, Hawaiʻi has seen two editions of the Hawaiʻi Broadband Strategic Plan (2012 and 2020), outlining the broadband goals for our State. In August 2021, Former Governor David Ige designated the University of Hawaiʻi as the lead coordinator of the broadband initiative in the State.
“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
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, detailing the top priorities for broadband and digital equity investment, 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.
- 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: Hawaiʻi Governor David Ige 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 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 Gov. David Ige.
- 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.