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Thursday, April 27, 2023
Feds Send $115.5 Million to Expand Broadband
By News Release @ 8:37 PM :: 2179 Views :: DHHL

 

Hawaii gets $115 million for broadband expansion

By Merrilee Gasser, The Center Square, Apr 28, 2023

(The Center Square) - Hawaii will receive $115.5 million in grant money from the American Rescue Plan to improve broadband.

The money is part of the federal government's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package passed by Congress in 2021.

"The pandemic showed that there are access disparities in Hawaii, to affordable and reliable internet service," said Gov. Josh Green. "High-speed internet is critical for education, telehealth services, job opportunities, and information."

The University of Hawaii and the Department of Budget and Finance submitted a Capital Project Funds grant to the U.S. Department of Treasury during the Fall, which included a plan for two programs to develop broadband infrastructure and provide broadband connectivity in state public housing facilities.

"UH has led in bringing broadband connectivity in Hawaii for decades, from bringing the very first internet connections to Hawaii, to making Hawaii the first in the nation with fiber optic connectivity to every one of our public schools, public libraries and public higher education sites," said UH President David Lassner. "We are incredibly proud to now be the only institution of higher education to lead these vital next steps of developing the broadband infrastructure so critical today to work, education, healthcare and economic vitality for our entire state."

The new financing will fund efforts to reinforce aging broadband pipelines, among other things, according to UH Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Garret Yoshimi.

"As the most isolated populated place on the planet, we face unique communications challenges and rely on submarine cables to stay connected," said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. "Improving our submarine cable infrastructure to ensure Hawai'i remains connected to the world and everyone in the state can get reliable, high-speed internet has been a focus of mine, and this funding will help make that a reality."

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Rep. Tokuda Joins White House, U.S. Treasury, Hawaiʻi Delegation, and Gov. Green to Announce $115.5 Million to Expand Broadband

News Release from US Rep Jill Tokuda, April 27, 2023

(Washington, DC) – Today, Representative Jill Tokuda (HI-02) joined the White House, U.S. Tresury, Hawaiʻi Delegation, and Governor Josh Green to announce $115.5 million in funding to expand broadband in Hawaiʻi. The Capital Projects Funding is a part of President Biden’s Invest in America agenda.

Specifically, the funding will implement two programs:

  • $101.7 million investment in the Hawaiʻi Subsea Middle Mile Program to address the subsea cable infrastructure needed to provide high-speed internet access to the islands.
  • $8 million investment in the Hawaiʻi Public Housing Authority Connection Program to update housing facilities with provide residents with high-speed internet.

“I am thrilled to help announce this critical funding to invest in broadband infrastructure in Hawaiʻi and expand reliable, high-speed internet access for our rural communities. In Hawaiʻi, our rural communities are spread out across many islands in which residents must travel by plane to access essential services.  The digital divide is real in Hawaiʻi and we need to do everything possible to increase digital literacy, said Rep. Jill Tokuda. “The expansion of high-speed internet will help lessen the burden by increasing access for our teachers and students, to help people connect with essential telehealth services, digital commerce for small businesses and farms, online classes for degrees or career and technical training, and simply keeping in touch with loved ones on a neighbor island or abroad. Mahalo to President Biden and the U.S. Treasury for awarding this funding to expand access to services for our communities and residents.”

“Access to reliable internet is critical for our keiki to be able to learn, for our kupuna to access telemedicine, and for our small businesses to access markets around the world,” said Senator Hirono. “But too many communities in our state, especially on the neighbor islands, still do not have access to reliable internet. Our children shouldn’t have to sit in a Zippy’s parking lot just to do their homework, and this funding will help ensure they don’t have to. This investment will help keiki and families connect with their schools, their workplaces, and their loved ones. This funding is one more way Democrats are investing in our communities and helping ensure our children are set up for lifetimes of success.”

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Treasury Department Announces Approval of Federal Funds to Connect Hawaii Homes and Families to Affordable, High-Speed Internet as Part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda

Combined with other Administration initiatives, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda has brought affordable internet to over 17 million American households

News Release from US Treasury Department, April 27, 2023

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the approval of $115.5 million for high-speed internet projects in Hawaii under the American Rescue Plan’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF), part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. A key priority of the CPF program is making funding available for broadband infrastructure, advancing President Biden’s goal of affordable, high-speed internet for everyone in America. Already, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda has delivered affordable high-speed internet to 17 million American households through the CPF funded by the American Rescue Plan, and through the Affordable Connectivity Program funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, saving each household at least $30 per month and supporting one of the strongest and fastest economic recoveries in history.

“The pandemic upended life as we knew it and exposed the stark inequity in access to affordable and reliable high-speed internet in communities across the country, including rural, Tribal, and other underrepresented communities,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “This funding is a key piece of the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments to increase access to high-speed internet for millions of Americans and provide more opportunities to fully participate and compete in the 21st century economy.”

“As the most isolated populated place on the planet, we face unique communications challenges and rely on submarine cables to stay connected,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. “Improving our submarine cable infrastructure to ensure Hawai‘i remains connected to the world and everyone in the state can get reliable, high-speed internet has been a focus of mine, and this funding will help make that a reality.”

“Access to reliable internet is critical for our keiki to be able to learn, for our kupuna to access telemedicine, and for our small businesses to access markets around the world,” said U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono. “But too many communities in our state, especially on the neighbor islands, still do not have access to reliable internet. Our children shouldn’t have to sit in a Zippy’s parking lot just to do their homework, and this funding will help ensure they don’t have to. This investment will help keiki and families connect with their schools, their workplaces, and their loved ones. This funding is one more way Democrats are investing in our communities and helping ensure our children are set up for lifetimes of success.”

“I am thrilled to help announce this critical funding to invest in broadband infrastructure in Hawaiʻi and expand reliable, high-speed internet access for our rural communities. In Hawaiʻi, our rural communities are spread out across many islands in which residents must travel by plane to access essential services.  The digital divide is real in Hawaiʻi and we need to do everything possible to increase digital literacy, said Rep. Jill Tokuda. “The expansion of high-speed internet will help lessen the burden by increasing access for our teachers and students, to help people connect with essential telehealth services, digital commerce for small businesses and farms, online classes for degrees or career and technical training, and simply keeping in touch with loved ones on a neighbor island or abroad. Mahalo to President Biden and the U.S. Treasury for awarding this funding to expand access to services for our communities and residents.”

“The pandemic showed that there are access disparities in Hawai‘i, to affordable and reliable internet service,” said Governor Josh Green, M.D. “I thank President Biden and his administration for providing federal resources to help our state improve internet access for all residents. High-speed internet is critical for education, telehealth services, job opportunities, and information.”

The CPF provides $10 billion to states, territories, freely associated states, and Tribal governments to fund critical capital projects that enable work, education, and health monitoring in response to the public health emergency. In addition to the $10 billion provided by the CPF, many governments are using a portion of their State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) toward meeting the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal of connecting every American household to affordable, reliable high-speed internet. Together, these American Rescue Plan programs and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are working in tandem with President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to close the digital divide – deploying high-speed internet to those without access and lowering costs for those who cannot afford it.

Hawaii is approved to receive $115.5 million to implement two broadband infrastructure programs that aim to provide reliable internet access to households across the state. The state will invest $101.7 million of their CPF award to the Hawaii Subsea Middle Mile Program designed to address the unique subsea cable infrastructure that’s needed to provide connectivity between the islands to ensure they have reliable, high-speed internet access. Hawaii will additionally invest $8 million towards the Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) Connections Program to upgrade public housing facilities to provide residents with access to affordable, high-speed internet. The plan approved by the Treasury Department today represents 100% of the state’s total allocation under the Capital Project Funds program.

In accordance with the Treasury Department’s guidance, each state’s plan requires service providers to participate in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) new Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Affordable Connectivity Program, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, helps ensure that households can afford high-speed internet by providing a discount of up to $30 per month (or up to $75 per eligible household on Tribal lands). Experts estimate that nearly 40% of U.S. households are eligible for the program.

To further lower costs, President Biden and Vice President Harris announced last year that the Administration had secured commitments from 20 leading internet service providers—covering more than 80% of the U.S. population—to offer all ACP-eligible households high-speed, reliable internet plans for no more than $30 per month. As a result of this agreement and the ACP, eligible households can receive internet access at no cost and can check their eligibility and sign up at GetInternet.gov.

The Treasury Department began announcing state awards in June of last year. To date, 40 states have been approved to invest over $6 billion of Capital Project Funds in affordable, reliable high-speed internet, which those states estimate will reach more than 1.75 million locations. The Department will continue approving state and Tribal plans on a rolling basis.

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SA: Hawaii to expand internet access

SA Editorial: Ensure $115M for online is optimized

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