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 Ken Berkun on February 28, 2010 at 8:34am
Everybody is competing - can we beat Topeka?
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 26, 2010 at 7:16pm
I agree a coordinated effort is best. We are trying to be as inclusive as possible while moving fast enough to have a good response before the deadline.

The groups that have been coordinating thus far include TechHui, Kevin Hughes (Sprout), Kanu Hawaii, ThinkTech, Evan Tector and Scott Foster on the PR side. Today we were contacted by Corrie Heck, the Governor's Chief Communications Officer. We are attempting to leverage each others efforts. We would love for you to be involved. No crab bucket here. We also understand and respect the fact you have been working hard in this area for many years.
Comment by R. Scott Belford on February 26, 2010 at 7:01pm
I suppose the potential for this to succeed may be lost, though, if there are too many "we's" and RFI's from Hawaii without any synergy or strategy. It's the old crabs in the bucket issue that plagues Hawaii. Headcounts are surely good, but it will be a shame if there are too many "me firsts" and not one unified and collaborative city/state/developer/university/tech generated response.
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 26, 2010 at 6:50pm
Hi Scott - We also responded to their RFI, as have many other community groups. We provide a link to the RFI on our Gigabit HI page and encourage other communities to respond.

Not everyone has time to respond to the RFI so we've provided a lighter weight tool in parallel to show headcount. I'll ensure senior management is aware of the petition if we get a good headcount and, if its significant, its reasonable to assume it will lend some weight.
Comment by R. Scott Belford on February 26, 2010 at 6:38pm
This is a great idea, but I am hoping that you will collectively consider that success depends on responding to their RFI. I am not sure that any key decision maker at Google will read or care about a petition.

Just today I asked our DOT director to what extent the DOT is considering telecommunication conduit in new roadways. More importantly, I asked if the DOT might begin managing broadband expansion buy treating telecom as transit. It is the HCDA, and the Green Field opportunity of Kalaeloa, peered through DHHL's fiber, peered through the new mall, peered through UHWO, and finally to Hawaii Medical Center West - that is a tangible and actionable conduit for a proposal.

I've also met with our Oceanic friends to see how we can position them to upstage Google. Let us not overlook the ability of Oceanic to deliver fast speeds if we want them.

This initiative should be more about Synchronous speeds that encourage creators with, and not users of, broadband. Perhaps we can organize the resources of this group for a specific and actionable response to the RFI, in collaboration with Government, Academia, and development.
Comment by Rubén Peña on February 17, 2010 at 5:52pm
Lets keep the great ideas rolling on TechHui!
Count me In +1 = #274 signed on the Petition.

BTW ironically the Federal Govt's FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has just announced an endeavor that hopes to connect 100 megabit-per-second pipes to 100 million households (& businesses) in the United States, bringing broadband connectivity adoption from 65 percent of the country to 90 percent of the populous.

That's a bold plan, but FCC Chairman Genachowski has offered copious examples of why we should do it, showing how simply adding a high-speed Internet connection to a home or office can increase business sales, improve education and income levels, and even save lives (linked doc with examples on original Yahoo! Tech Blog article; see below).

The FCC estimates it would cost $350 billion to provide that kind of service across the country. And while the National Broadband Plan (funded by last year's Federal Stimulus Package) is a natural part of this endeavor, it's likely that private industry will have to pick up a good portion of the slack to make this really happen. For example, it's the game-changing newcomers -- like Google's recently-announced and ultra-ambitious 1Gbps Google Fiber project -- that arguably offer the best hope for boosting us all into the triple digits, speed-wise.

Check out the story on Yahoo! Tech Blogs:;_ylt=As6VGpNIdsYlFecL5D2iOW...
Comment by Mika Leuck on February 15, 2010 at 10:40pm
Mahalo Ryan! You really got the retweets going! Did you see the Sprout Kevin did for the front page?
Comment by Ryan on February 15, 2010 at 9:14pm
Glad to sign, and tweet, and get the 'retweet' cycle going!
Comment by Daniel Leuck on February 15, 2010 at 7:40pm
The feeling is mutual Patrick. Superb was our first and most ardent supporter.
Comment by Patrick Ahler on February 15, 2010 at 2:55pm
This is why I LOVE techHui! Thanks Dan!

Signed, shortened (, and tweeted


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