Hawaiʻi's Technology Community

Why Hawaii is an Ideal Choice for Google's Gigabit Network

Hawaii, home to nearly 1.3 million people, is the most isolated island chain on earth. Our state's unique geographic isolation presents special challenges in keeping our families, communities and businesses connected across our islands and to the outside world. The speed and quality of our connection to the net directly impacts our ability to communicate, educate, learn and conduct business. Despite the fact we are arguably the most dependent on connectivity, we rank 48th in the union in terms of average connection speed. A gigabit network in Hawaii would enable applications of particular importance to our state including telemedicine, distance learning (see and early warning / disaster management systems for tsunamis and hurricanes. We are the also the site of many “big science” projects for the US including the country’s largest telescope projects. These instruments generate terabytes of data daily that could be utilized by research institutions around the world.

1. Hawaii is the most isolated and import-dependent state in the union. As such, it's imperative that its economic drivers shift from tourism and the military to the sale and export of locally-produced goods, content and intellectual capital. High-speed networking can help achieve this vision of sustainability per our state mandate (i.e. Lingle's Innovation Initiative.)

2. Hawaii represents a huge telemedicine testbed opportunity. Hawaii is the first state to offer online physician visits statewide. HMSA members (54% of the population) have access to online visits from their doctors. Kaiser was the first in the nation to operate mobile mammogram service in remote areas. Mammograms are transmitted in real time to physicians who can make a determination on the spot for follow up care. Availability of a high speed connection will allow Kaiser and HMSA to continue their innovation in this and other areas of telemedicine. HD video streaming is required for effective remote diagnostic and tele-surgery applications. This is obviously of particular importance to us given the fact our population is spread across the most remote island chain on earth.

3. Hawaii's speeds are among the worst in the nation. According to 2009 CWA report on Internet speeds and, Hawaii ranks 48th of all states in terms of average download speed.

4. Hawaii's geography has always been a driver for cutting-edge high-speed networking. It's why the influential ALOHAnet, the predecessor to Ethernet, was invented in our state. There are thousands of families and communities scattered across the Hawaiian islands. Fiber would provide incredible opportunities for them to stay connected and participate in shared cultural events and educational opportunities. Workers providing net-based customer support from home can provide services spanning Japan to New York within regular local work hours.

We were also leaders in spreading the internet to Asia. The University of Hawaii implemented the first IP connections to Japan, Korea, Australia and New Zealand working with academic colleagues in those countries.

5. Hawaii is one of the most culturally diverse states with Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders comprising over half of the population. Over 22% of its citizens speak a language other than English at home, which presents an opportunity for real-time translation services and high-bandwidth experiences (such as streaming video with multiple language tracks) that enable cross-cultural communication and community building.

6. Google has offices in 17 states, but has no Hawaii presence. Why not? As mentioned above, Hawaii could be a great testbed for Google Health ( Our state is the perfect place for software engineers to escape the colder weather of mainland winters, and it's certainly one of the most inspiring places on earth.

The only drawback to our proposal is that Google's infrastructure team will be forced to visit Hawaii frequently and endure our white sand beaches, pristine rainforests, breaching whales, awe-inspiring volcanoes and the prevalent spirit of aloha. :-)

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Comment by David Lassner on April 3, 2011 at 9:33am

Just added some comments on the other blog posting about this sharing my observations about why KCK won at:

I agree that open access Layer 1 infrastructure is a very powerful approach.  It focuses innovation and competition on services and innovation rather than on construction of infrastructure.  It also makes issues of content discrimination and net neutrality go away, since if you don't like your service provider's practices you have choice over the same infrastructure.  This was not feasible for our initiative for schools, libraries, colleges and universities in Hawaii.

But this approach is not natural for the private sector in the U.S.  It takes a lot of government will to build Muni Networks in competition with incumbent providers, and in many places the lobbying has been fierce to pass laws to prevent them.  NC is the poster child for that right now, e.g.:


Another approach is the new Australian National Broadband Network.  This was a big issue in the last national election and may have swayed rural reps to support the current PM.  In brief, they are opening up the incumbent's network with a combination of regulation and big money, implementing FTTP where feasible, and building out wireless to the most rural areas where FTTP isn't reasonable.  You can google the project or check out the official govt website at:

Singapore did something similar, but I find the AU example more instructive for the U.S. given the greater similarities between us.

Comment by Daniel Leuck on March 30, 2011 at 4:02pm

@Paul - Interesting question. I might be for that if, as you suggest, its Layer 1 only. I'm curious what David thinks about this. It could be an outcropping of the ultra-high speed network already going into the UH campuses and libraries.

@Ken LOL!

Comment by Paul Graydon on March 30, 2011 at 3:53pm

So.. do I mention the possible elephant in the room?


How about a high-speed municipal network.  There are now 133 municipalities with such a network in place.

To be honest I'm not entirely keen on an idea of a state run ISP, I'm more inclined to go with the idea of the state providing layer 1 (physical) and selling access to providers.

Comment by Daniel Leuck on March 30, 2011 at 10:08am
They said, "We will announce our target community or communities by the end of the year." in the first link below. They appear to have picked one.
Comment by Rubén Peña on March 30, 2011 at 9:42am

Aloha Fellow Techuians!!


Im somewhat confused.  Wasn't the winning pool of select communities chosen for Google's GigaBit Network supposed to be "in a small number of trial locations across the country" (the number I heard kicked around was between 50~60 initial trial locations).


So then why is Kansas City, Kansas the 'only' winner announced by Google??  With ~1,000 applicants and a pool of 50~60 to be chosen as pilot trial beta site winners, I would have thought for sure Hawaii would have been a shoe-in as one of the pilot trial locations chosen, especially since we have the most compelling list of business, economic, social, need-based reasons, etc. by far verses almost any other of the 1,000's applicants submitted from across the USA.


So, can someone shed light as to why there is just 1 chosen pilot trial beta site winner, aka Kansas City, Kansas??


Here are some original links for Google's GigaBit Network, so you can check out their wording:




Comment by Ken Berkun on March 30, 2011 at 9:11am
Dan, all their high speed links are filled with cholesterol, so they need all the help they can get.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on March 30, 2011 at 9:09am
I'm not sure how Kansas City could be more in need, but it will certainly be cheaper.
Comment by Ryan on March 30, 2011 at 8:55am
Comment by R. Scott Belford on March 10, 2010 at 11:34am
In the interest of focusing on a locale with identifiable public and private entities capable of collaborating in a Government initiative, I have been adding more information to my 2008 Ewa Plain of Opportunity map hosted with Google. The link is here and I am endeavoring to combine these entities into a unified voice. Any help, map modifications, or suggestions are appreciated.

I'm not sure if it will embed properly, but here is the map. I hope it doesn't kludge this post.

View Ewa Plain of Opportunity in a larger map
Comment by Ken Berkun on March 10, 2010 at 8:57am
In all seriousness, even though this isn't serious. We have a mayor that sings. I think he should record a pro-google song (any songwriters on techhui?). Right in the application Google is asking for creative submissions.


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