Hawaii to Receive $115M to Improve Statewide Broadband Connectivity

Hawaii gets $115M for broadband expansion, led by University of Hawaiʻi; focus on undersea cables & digital literacy.By University of Hawai'i News
May 1, 2023

The U.S. Treasury Department announced Hawaiʻi will receive about $115 million in funding to improve and expand high-speed broadband availability throughout the state as part of the $10-billion Capital Projects Fund going to jurisdictions around the country. The University of Hawaiʻi leads the ʻApakau ka lā (the spreading of the sun’s rays) Initiative that will combine more than $400 million in federal grants and matching funds to ensure the state’s long-term connectivity.

As part of the Treasury Department funding, Hawaiʻi received $5.7 million last year to begin planning. The project aims to increase capacity and reliability of broadband pipelines around the state and to build access in areas where broadband is not currently available. The majority of the Treasury funding will be invested in a new undersea cable system connecting our islands, with about $8 million expected to be spent on improving connectivity and digital literacy at Hawaiʻi Public Housing Authority locations.

“ UH has led in bringing broadband connectivity in Hawaiʻi for decades,” said UH President David Lassner, “from bringing the very first internet connections to Hawaiʻi to making Hawaiʻi the first in the nation with fiber optic connectivity to every one of our public schools, public libraries and public higher education sites. We are incredibly proud to now be the only institution of higher education to lead these vital next steps of developing the broadband infrastructure so critical today to work, education, healthcare and economic vitality for our entire state.”

“ This project funding will help us reinforce and strengthen Hawaiʻi’s aging broadband pipelines and provide the foundation for future decades that will see increasing demand for internet access,” UH Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Garret Yoshimi said.

“ From telehealth to distance learning, remote work, and e-commerce, so many of us are reliant upon high-quality, reliable internet service,” said Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke. “ Connectivity is no longer a modern-day convenience but instrumental in our daily lives, and we must secure internet access for all. The U.S. Dept. of Treasury’s release of $115 million to build a new inter-island submarine fiber optic cable system and upgrade connectivity for Hawaiʻi Public Housing Authority properties across the state, coupled with the Legislature’s approval of a $66 million state funding match to draw down additional federal funds, are critical in ensuring our entire state and all residents—regardless of location or income—remain connected to each other and the rest of the world.”

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