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 Konstantin A Lukin on March 10, 2010 at 8:47am
In it, Duluth says that all first born males in the city shall be named “Google Fiber” and all first born females shall be “Googlette Fiber.”
I've seen this too, and generally think this is a bit too much.. I also think their giga bit is an interesting experiment, and could bring out a lot of things, good and bad. For one thing, it will re-energize internet communities to be even more 'addicted' to being online. The other is that there is a lot of 'stuff' that is currently being pumped through existing cables, a lot of it is not necessarily so great. Fiber will have a magnifying effect on all of that.

I think it is important to combine technological innovations with proper moral values and education. Otherwise the internet can become a super fast sewage pump.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on March 10, 2010 at 5:54am
Ken Berkun: An alternative view. Can't say I necessarily agree, but with reading.

"Google is already the subject of an antitrust investigation by the European Commission."

I'm not sure that is evidence of anything. If your neighborhood bakery becomes too profitable you are likely to be investigated by the European Commission :-)

I strongly disagree with this article. Just because a new competitor is coming to the market, we should respond with legislation? That is certainly the way we do things in Hawaii, and thats turned out just great! Wait...
Comment by Ken Berkun on March 9, 2010 at 6:24pm
An alternative view. Can't say I necessarily agree, but with reading.
Comment by Ken Berkun on March 4, 2010 at 8:16am
Duluth, Minn., has jumped into the competition for Google's ultra-fast broadband with a Web site and a YouTube video poke at Topeka, Kansas, renaming itself Google.

The competition has now extended to YouTube to be one of the cities that Google Inc. chooses for its test of an ultra high-speed broadband network.

Duluth, Minn., has posted a video in response to Topeka, Kansas, renaming itself Google.

In it, Duluth says that all first born males in the city shall be named “Google Fiber” and all first born females shall be “Googlette Fiber.”

The mayor, however, makes it clear the promise is a parody of the "Google pandering arms race."

The video's message? "Just because Topeka was the first to make an obnoxious symbolic gesture to suck up to the good folks there at Google doesn't mean that we can't suck up even more."

In a more serious vein, the city has also set up a Google Twin Ports campaign Web site, where people can show support for bringing a Google's broadband test to Duluth.

None of the cities in Silicon Valley that are vying to win Mountain View-based Google's broadband, which includes San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto and a consortium of West Valley cities, have utilized such tactics — so far.
Comment by R. Scott Belford on March 4, 2010 at 2:28am
Aloha Daniel. I am happy to help, and I am of the impression that help is needed. My interests are not in how many groups are involved saying 'me too' but in who is addressing the strategy and participation required to pull this off in less than 3 weeks. I realize that you are "working as hard as we can to involve as many people in the community as possible," and I am simply trying to reduce your load by bringing more people from more communities who are already working on this.

I would have liked to have more than 6 hours notice for the meeting with David. It seems that meetings should begin including as many of us as possible. It is important to answer and build strategies around the questions asked by Google in either their government or community RFI.

For instance, will you discuss the critical community link hosting creative content as encouraged, and shouldn't we delegate this to someone to start drafting:

" Web link to supporting material (YouTube videos and other creative submissions are encouraged!) "

And I am still wondering what community vectors for implementation are being considered. I am not asking for myself. I am asking because this is a critical component for the Government RFI and will help to focus the community response:

"List communities included in your response:

These may be autonomous units of government contained within the boundaries of the responding entity (such as towns within a county), districts or neighborhoods within a town, or adjacent units of government responding together (such as a joint response of multiple counties or towns)."

Of course it is a lot easier to answer this question from Google if we have chosen the communities for implementation:

"Contact person has authority to provide these answers as the official position of the responding local government? If not, please provide contact information for the local government official who does have such authority:"

I've spent the last 5 years of my life advocating vendor neutral fttx, and I take this quite seriously. If we are going to compete, then we have 21 days. It's an election year with lots of City and State crossover, so don't underestimate the complexity of a real Government RFI that includes due diligence with City integration.

What I mean by doing more than following up is that we are past the point to "follow up." It seems we are well into the phase of 'we are meeting on this day and please attend so that we can work on specifics.' I provided detailed information so that we could be closer to a real and organized proposal.

I doubt I'll make the 7:30 meeting with you and David, but I'll make others if I have at least 24 hours to play with. If I had decent FTTX then I could skip the commute and join you by video. I am very interested in being part of the solution, and I commend all of your efforts, Daniel.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on March 4, 2010 at 1:18am
R. Scott Belford: Okay. It's going to take a lot more than following up, and, if I have already made the contacts and laid the groundwork, don't we need to be doing more than following up?
I don't know what you mean by this. We are working as hard as we can to involve as many people in the community as possible. We've already brought in numerous organizations including UH, HSTC, HVCA, HTDC, ThinkTech, etc. We are attempting to "follow up" with as many others as possible in the given time frame.

R. Scott Belford: Are you interested in structuring the RFI to be more than a plea to Google by creating a substantiated, government led plan of action with State, City, University, Developer, and Medical support?
I think you are conflating government responses and community responses. As you can see here, they are distinct RFIs, and there is no reason for the community RFI to be lead by the government (although we are in contact with the Governor's office.) The Governor's office has said they are taking the lead on the government side, and we have volunteered to help coordinate things on the community side.

R. Scott Belford: I would be interested in joining you and Kevin tomorrow in this meeting with David and would hope that we can start expanding meetings to include everyone with a stake in the RFI.
You are welcome to join us. We are meeting him at 7:30am in his office.
Comment by R. Scott Belford on March 3, 2010 at 9:08pm
Okay. It's going to take a lot more than following up, and, if I have already made the contacts and laid the groundwork, don't we need to be doing more than following up? It seems that time is limited. Are you interested in structuring the RFI to be more than a plea to Google by creating a substantiated, government led plan of action with State, City, University, Developer, and Medical support? Is there consensus that the vector for success is an RFI focused on a particular geographic locale such as the Ewa Plain? I would be interested in joining you and Kevin tomorrow in this meeting with David and would hope that we can start expanding meetings to include everyone with a stake in the RFI.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on March 3, 2010 at 8:51pm
Aloha Scott - Thank you for your information rich post :-) We will follow up with as many of these people as possible. We are talking to David Lassner, and he has already provided very valuable advice. Kevin and I are meeting him tomorrow morning. Yuka is our corporate neighbor so we talk to her all the time. I hope to open a dialog with Gordon Bruce. There are some names I didn't recognize in your post, and we will endeavor to follow up with them.

I'm on a plane to NY tomorrow. I'll continue to work on this remotely with Kevin, Olin, Evan, Jay, Keiki-Pua and Scott on the ground in Hawaii. We really appreciate all your help and info!
Comment by Maika Saguid on March 3, 2010 at 8:26pm
Here's some other cities' efforts to get Google's Gigabit Network:
Duluth, MN
Topeka...I mean Google (until the end of the month), KS
Comment by R. Scott Belford on March 3, 2010 at 4:41pm
I advocate vendor neutral, or at least transport neutral, fiber to the premise. I'll take transport neutral synchronous speeds so that I can be my own VOIP provide without fear of QOS manipulation from competing telcom providers. Living in a planned community with community-owned alleys, the model is well rehearsed. My proposed vector for success is through what I call the Ewa Plain of Development.

The best, if not the only, 'green field' opportunity on Oahu exists between Kalaeloa and Hawaii Medical Center West. Keeping in mind that DHHL property already has FTTX thanks to Sandwich Isles and our rural telecommunication tax, the community of the future starts on the coastline at the former Naval Air Station, Barber's Point, now known as Kalaeloa. Its where we can leverage wind, wave, and sun power to attract data centers and off-grid businesses while building a synchronous fttx foundation. It goes like this

HCDA, Hawaii Community Development Authority, has jurisdiction over Kalaeloa. Hunt Development has first dibs on lots of property, and their local manager, Craig, has a clue. I serve on the KAT, Kalaeloa Advisory Team, and have long since advocated fiber in this community and for the Ewa Plain. In March of 2009 I arranged for Councilmember Apo to have David Lassner and Gordon Bruce attend his invitation-only Ewa Transportation Coalition meeting so that developers and political leaders could collaborate on a fiber connected community. I was simultaneously pitching Google on buying Hawaiian Telcom from The Carlyle Group.

My first contact upon hearing of Google's RFI was with HCDA to suggest that they take the lead. They integrate countless State and City planners. My second contact was to DR Horton since they are trying to get a community approved. My third contact was with the DOT to see how well they are planning for fiber installations in their future roads. The Mayor already met with me to counter my claims that I could take more cars off the road with telecommuting than he could with transit.

Peering into Kalaeloa is the soon-to-be-built shopping mall that will peer through commercial property being sold by UHWO to finance its property which peers into DHHL's fiber which peers into the possible DR Horton property that peers into Hawaii Medical Center West. So, can you understand how we have the chance, now, with or without Google, to build the best community in the world? If we want our own backhaul, then we can use laser link across the Waianae Ridge and negotiate our way into the the fiber landings.

The pieces to build upon are

Gordon Bruce of the City and County - We've talked about this for years, and he has advanced key right of way issues
David Lassner - Don't overlook David's greatest contribution to Hawaii. IMHO, it's the brilliant people he helps to bring to Hawaii via PTC, the Pacific Telecommunication Conference, such as the Intelligent Community Foundation awards.
DR Horton - They need LUC approval for a live/work community. I serve on their advisory team, and they know I believe the path to success is by getting you to live in and telecommute from their homes
UHWO - Dr. Awakuni is a great man who is tasked with funding the University of West Oahu from the ground up.
HMC - The bankrupt, doctor-owned, maybe soon-to-be St. Francis reclaimed Hawaii Medical Center could be the greatest provider on Oahu - with fiber peerage to the Ewa Plain
DHHL - They have fiber, and they have entertained multiple pitches from me about how all native Hawaiian communities would be transformed by teaching kids computer programming and building apps and exportable appliances enabled by fttx.
HTDC - Yuka and her LavaNet experience is uniquely qualified to grasp this on multiple levels
Transit - We are trying to build a questionable transit project, but, if it is the fattest fiber and wireless conduit in the World, I'll take it.
Hunt Development - Although they gave up the UHWO land, they still have significant Kalaelola land thanks to the Ford Island Agreement.
Oceanic - Having met with them to see where they stood on the Google offer, as well as the mandates from legislation rising from the Broadband Task Force, I know they would give us what we wanted if we asked.
Jim Thompson and James Hettrick - Two early adopters who pointed me in the FTTX direction in 2006
Daniel, Jay, others I missed - With catalysts like Daniel and Jay Fidell involved, we have the most ripe green field opportunity for Google's Gigabit offer. Of course, we can demand the same from Hawaiian Telcom or Oceanic TWC.

So, let's get in it to win it and wrap our respective intellects around a specific geographic locale and its key influencers.



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