UH Vice President leads new broadband task force

Task force to recommend how to improve Hawaii's capabilities for the 21st century

University of Hawaiʻi
David Lassner, 808-956-3501
Information Technology Services
Posted: Nov 29, 2007

The Hawaiʻi Broadband Task Force has begun work to examine the current state and future potential of high-speed Internet access in the state, and the impact broadband networks and advanced communications technologies could have on such areas as economic diversification, health care, public safety, and education.

David Lassner, University of Hawaiʻi Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, who chairs the task force, emphasized the impact the availability of broadband service can have on the state and its residents.

"Increasing the speed and availability of broadband service could affect the entire community," he said. "Clearly, it is a vital part of our economic, social, and educational infrastructure, but it can also make additional health care services available to our seniors and rural residents, for example. It is no exaggeration to call it the transformative technology of our generation."

While the adoption of broadband technology has increased steadily, the speed and affordability of broadband in the United States, including Hawaiʻi, has not kept pace with other developed countries worldwide.

"Among the top economies worldwide in 2005, the United States ranked 16th in broadband penetration," said Rep. Kyle Yamashita, who introduced the House Bill that established the task force, and now serves as a member. "In Hawaiʻi today, the fastest broadband connections available are between 11 and 15 megabits per second. When you look at the country as a whole, that‘s great service," said Yamashita. "But when you compare it to Japan, where 100 megabits per second is routine, it‘s not as impressive. And when you consider cost on a per megabit basis, customers in Japan pay far less than customers here."

"Why is that and what do we have to do to bring ourselves to those levels?" asked task force member Sen. Carol Fukunaga. "Technology is the key to success in today‘s economy, so we have to ask how can we make that technology more available in Hawaiʻi."

The task force includes representatives of private sector technology, telecommunications, and investment industries; federal, state, and county government entities; and the Hawaiʻi Legislature. It is being assisted by the Office of the Auditor, which will provide research and organizational support services.

Serving on the task force are its Vice Chair Nam Vu (ShakaNet, Inc.), Gary Caulfield (First Hawaiian Bank), Joel Matsunaga (Hawaiian TelCom), Henk Rogers (BluePlanet Wireless), Nate Smith (Oceanic Time Warner Cable), Gordon Bruce (City and County of Honolulu), Clyde Sonobe (Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs), Jennifer Goto Sabas (Office of U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye), Sen. Will Espero, Sen. David Ige, Rep. Marcus Oshiro, and Rep. Gene Ward. The task force will prepare a preliminary report for submission to the 2008 Legislature, and a final report for the 2009 Legislature.

More information on the task force and its work is available at www.hbtf.org.

For more information, visit: http://www.hbtf.org