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. :-)