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Google ups investment to improve Hawaiian internet infrastructure

Hawaii receives major financial fillip from Google to develop critical internet infrastructure across the state, connecting to Japan and mainland US

In a move that is being described as a “transformative” investment in the Pacific Island state’s digital infrastructure, Connect Kākou, Hawaii’s high-speed internet initiative, and Google have unveiled plans for the construction of a $1bn project to create new fibre-optic internet subsea cables.

Connect Kākou is designed to ensure people from all walks of life in Hawaii have reliable and affordable access to high-speed internet. The state initiative believes access to quality healthcare, education, government, jobs and social connection are all dependent on reliable connections to the internet, yet nearly one in 10 households in Hawaii do not have connectivity. 

Hawaii’s internet connectivity is reliant on three main undersea cables, with two of the cables nearing the end of their operational lifespans. The new cables will connect Hawaii with Japan, the continental US, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI), and Guam. These new transpacific routes are expected to enhance internet reliability and connectivity for users in the Pacific Islands and around the world.

The Tabua cable will help to connect Hawaii with the continental US, Fiji and Australia, improving Hawaii’s internet connections in the South Pacific and protecting the islands from internet disruptions. Google’s introduction of the new Taihei cable will help ensure the state has continued connectivity and enhanced bandwidth to and from Japan.

In collaboration with governor Josh Green, MD, lieutenant governor Sylvia Luke launched Connect Kākou with partners from the Hawaii Broadband and Digital Equity Office (HBDEO), the University of Hawaii (UH), the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL), and multiple state and county agencies. The initiative is working to ensure people from all walks of life have reliable access to high-speed internet, and have the tools and knowledge to safely and confidently use the internet.

In addition to Google’s commitment, Hawaii is on track to receive a historic investment of more than $320m in federal funding over the next five years to build critical internet infrastructure across the state and increase digital literacy and equity. In March 2024, Hawaii’s Digital Equity Plan was approved by the federal government, a major step towards prioritising federal funding for the development of digital equity projects and programmes.

“We are truly grateful for Google’s transformative investment in our state’s digital infrastructure,” said Luke, leader of Connect Kākou. “These undersea cables are our foundation for connecting with the world, and the introduction of the Taihei and Tabua projects are a key to Connect Kākou’s efforts. Just how we need multiple roads to get in and out of different areas, we need these pathways to ensure that everyone can get online, stay online and thrive.”

“We are pleased to work with Lt. Gov. Luke, Connect Kākou and several telecommunications partners on the Pacific Connect initiative to bolster digital connectivity, improve internet affordability, and internet resilience for residents across Hawaii, Japan and the South Pacific,” added Google Asia Pacific director Benji Robinson.

“We’ve seen the transformative impact that subsea cables can bring to the places where they land. As the world increasingly relies on data, streaming, e-commerce and other daily internet activities, investments like these are crucial to maintaining global connectivity.”

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