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Plans for $1 billion fiber-optic undersea cable network unveiled

Internet reliability and worldwide connectivity are expected to be enhanced with a $1 billion project to create a new fiber-optic undersea cable network, according to an announcement from Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, leader of Connect Kākou, Hawaiʻi’s high-speed internet initiative, and Benji Robinson, director of Asia Pacific Network Planning and Acquisition for Google.

The cables will connect Hawaiʻi with Japan, the continental US, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam. The new transpacific routes are aimed at improving internet reliability and connectivity for users in the Pacific Islands and around the world.

Now, Hawaiʻi’s internet connectivity relies on three main undersea cables, and two of the cables are nearing the end of their operational lifespans, according to the announcement.

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

Google will also fund the construction of an interlink cable connecting Hawaiʻi, the CNMI and Guam.

“We are truly grateful for Google’s transformative investment in our state’s digital infrastructure,” Luke said. “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 Hawaiʻi, Japan and the South Pacific,” Robinson said. “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.”

In addition to Google’s commitment, Hawaiʻi is on track to receive a historic investment of more than $320 million in federal funding over the next five years to build critical internet infrastructure across the state and increase digital literacy and equity, according to the announcement. In March, Hawaiʻi’s Digital Equity Plan was approved by the federal government. That is seen as a “major step towards prioritizing federal funding for the development of digital equity projects and programs.”

In collaboration with Gov. Josh Green, Luke launched Connect Kākou with partners from the Hawai‘i Broadband and Digital Equity Office, the University of Hawai‘i, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands 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. Maui Now

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