U.S. Treasury Allocates $115M for Improved Broadband Infrastructure in Hawaiʻi​
UH’s ʻApakau ka lāʼ Initiative is part of $10B Capital Projects Fund

David Lassner

The University of Hawai‘i is working with the United States Treasury to allocate approximately $115 million for the enhancement and extension of high-speed broadband in Hawai‘i.

UH’s ‘Apakau ka lā’ Initiative (“Spreading of the Sun’s Rays”) is working to raise $400 million in federal grants and matching funds to ensure long-term connectivity across the state as part of a $10 billion national Capital Projects Fund.

The $115 million follows a $5.7 million allocation in 2022 to begin project planning. The initiative’s primary goal is to bolster capacity and reliability of broadband pipelines across the state, as well as extending access to areas currently without broadband.

The majority of the funds will support a new undersea cable system to link the Hawaiian Islands, with nearly $8 million earmarked for enhancing connectivity and digital literacy at Hawai‘i Public Housing Authority locations. UH President David Lassner noted the institution’s history of leading broadband connectivity in Hawai‘i, from initiating the state’s first internet connections to pioneering fiber optic connectivity across public schools, libraries and higher education sites.

“UH has led in bringing broadband connectivity in Hawai‘i for decades,” Lassner said in a release. “From bringing the very first internet connections to Hawai‘i, to making Hawai‘i 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.”

The funding will fortify Hawai‘i aging broadband infrastructure, meeting rising demand for internet access, according to UH Vice President of Information Technology and CIO, Garret Yoshimi.

Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke emphasized the necessity of high-quality, reliable internet service, pointing out its critical role in multiple areas.

“From telehealth to distance learning, remote work and e-commerce, so many of us are reliant upon high-quality, reliable internet service,” Luke said. “Connectivity is no longer a modern-day convenience but instrumental in our daily lives, and we must secure internet access for all.”

The planned subsea cable system is set to include landing sites for additional broadband fiber connections on Hawai‘i island, Maui, Lāna‘i, Moloka‘i, O‘ahu and Kaua‘i.

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