Cue the theme song from the Ventures as Hawaii waves in a swell of broadband infrastructure build out. As State Scoop reveals, Hawaii’s Governor David Ige is preparing to revitalize the state’s digital outreach capabilities.
“During the pandemic, the importance of broadband to everything that we do was made all too real. All of us dramatically increased online activities such as online learning, telework, telehealth, and workforce development and training,” said Ige, adding, “A critical part of reprogramming our economy is also the creation of a healthy, statewide broadband network.”
Ige noted that Hawaii was caught unprepared by COVID. “The pandemic has made it painfully clear that life in the future will be all about being connected,” said Ige. The recently created Digital Equity Declaration at: https://www.broadbandhui.org/, outlines the state’s commitment to delivering connectivity to all islanders. Hawaii plans to secure its share of the billions of dollars in available federal funding for broadband infrastructure.
According to advocacy group Broadband Now, Hawaii is number 27 among U.S. states in terms of broadband access. Mirroring findings on the mainland, it was noted that rural and poor communities rank highest among the underserved. While 12 percent of all Hawaiians lack internet access, the number rises to 19 percent among lower income households.
As Bert Lum, Hawaii’s broadband officer commented, “We have a pretty fragile economy being completely dependent on tourism. How do we diversify our economy?” Lum asked. “You need the foundation on which a digital economy can flourish,” he determined.