University of Hawaiʻi (UH) and Ocean Networks, Inc. (ONI) have announced a monumental $120 million public-private partnership to construct the Hawaiian Islands Fiber Link (HIFL). This transformative submarine optical fiber cable system aims to connect the Hawaiian Islands, revolutionizing high-speed broadband internet access throughout the state. The project is a key component of Connect Kākou, the state’s broadband initiative, marking it as a top priority under the Josh Green administration.

Governor Josh Green, M.D., expressed his enthusiasm for the project, stating, “This inter-island cable system will leverage the once-in-a-generation federal investment for technological infrastructure, and position our state for long-term economic growth.” The resulting network will be open to all carriers, supporting a wide range of telecommunications carrier and enterprise traffic, including anticipated high-capacity demands for healthcare, education, research, public service, commerce, and government uses.

Ocean Networks, Inc. (ONI) will play a pivotal role in the supply, construction, operations, and maintenance of the inter-island cable system. Partial funding will be provided through a federal grant, with ONI securing the remaining funds through private equity and secured debt. Once online, HIFL will serve as the inter-island backbone of Connect Kākou, processing a high volume of data with minimal delay.

Under the direction of Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke, Connect Kākou is poised to guarantee the state’s long-term internet connectivity. Exceeding over $500 million in federal grants, state funds, and private matching funds, the initiative is committed to connecting the unconnected and providing everyone the opportunity to access reliable, affordable, high-speed internet.

Garret Yoshimi, UH Vice President for Information Technology and CIO, expressed satisfaction in partnering with Ocean Networks, Inc., citing their significant industry experience. He emphasized, “It’s an honor for UH to play an important role in connecting Hawaiʻi to the future.”

Cliff Miyake, VP Business Development of Ocean Networks, Inc., echoed the sentiment, saying, “We are delighted to collaborate with the UH and proud that ONI has been selected to build and operate the new HIFL submarine cable system. The HIFL system will provide critical improvement to the broadband infrastructure for the State of Hawaiʻi.”

HIFL will be a carrier-neutral, open-access system, with landing sites strategically located on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi. This design aims to improve inter-island and regional connectivity across Hawaiʻi. The system, featuring 24 fiber pairs with a design life of 25 years, is expected to be ready for service in late 2026. The UH System Office for Information Technology, with support from the Research Corporation of the University of Hawaiʻi, is overseeing the project.

The announcement of this highly-anticipated project marks a significant step towards securing Hawaiʻi’s digital future, promoting economic growth, and ensuring widespread, reliable access to high-speed internet across the state. As HIFL progresses, it is poised to become a symbol of technological innovation and a catalyst for Hawaiʻi’s connectivity revolution.

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