Hawai’i University and Ocean Networks Unveil a $120 Million New Undersea Cable Initiative

The University of Hawai’i (UH) and Ocean Networks, Inc. (ONI) have joined forces to announce a groundbreaking $120 million public-private partnership aimed at constructing a state-of-the-art submarine optical fiber cable system. This ambitious project, known as the Hawaiian Islands Fiber Link (HIFL), is set to interconnect the Hawaiian Islands, significantly enhancing and expanding high-speed broadband internet services across the state. The initiative is a pivotal component of Connect Kākou, the state’s broadband vision, and a top priority for the administration of Governor Josh Green.

Key Project Details:

  • Objective: The primary goal of the Hawaiian Islands Fiber Link (HIFL) is to establish a robust undersea cable system that seamlessly connects the Hawaiian Islands, serving as a critical backbone for the Connect Kākou broadband initiative.
  • Public-Private Partnership: The $120 million investment represents a collaboration between the University of Hawai’i and Ocean Networks, Inc. ONI is entrusted with responsibilities ranging from supply and construction to the ongoing operations and maintenance of the inter-island cable system.
  • Funding Structure: A federal grant will partially fund the project, with the remaining funds secured by ONI through a combination of private equity and secured debt. This multi-faceted approach ensures a comprehensive financial backing for the endeavor.
  • Connect Kākou Initiative: HIFL aligns with the Connect Kākou initiative, championed by Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke, which aims to provide reliable and affordable high-speed internet access to individuals from all walks of life.
  • Carrier-Neutral System: HIFL is designed as a carrier-neutral, open-access system, ensuring that the resulting network remains accessible to all carriers. This inclusivity is integral to supporting a diverse range of telecommunications services, including anticipated high-capacity demands for healthcare, education, research, public service, commerce, and government applications.
  • Connectivity and Landing Sites: HIFL will establish landing sites on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi, and Molokaʻi, enhancing Hawai’i’s inter-island and regional connectivity. The system will consist of 24 fiber pairs with a projected design life of 25 years, with service expected to commence in late 2026.

Leadership Perspectives:

  • Governor Josh Green, M.D.: “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.”
  • Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke: “Connect Kākou has over $500 million in federal grants, state funds, and private matching funds available as we work towards connecting the unconnected and make sure everyone has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet.”
  • Garret Yoshimi, UH Vice President for Information Technology and CIO: “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.: “The HIFL system will provide critical improvement to the broadband infrastructure for the State of Hawaiʻi.”

As the HIFL project moves forward, it stands as a testament to the commitment of UH and ONI to propel Hawai’i into a digitally connected and economically vibrant future. Stay tuned for further updates as this transformative undersea cable system progresses towards deployment.

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