Hawai’i has launched a new initiative aimed at expanding broadband infrastructure and boosting digital literacy programs across the state.
The new Connect Kākou initiative will ensure communities across Hawaiʻi have reliable and affordable access to high-speed internet. Led by Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, the effort is being made in collaboration with the Hawaiʻi Broadband and Digital Equity Office, University of Hawaiʻi, Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, and other state and county agencies.
“Connect Kākou conveys that this initiative is about everyone, not just the select few,” Lt. Gov. Luke said in a press release. “A reliable internet connection is essential to access quality healthcare, education, government, career opportunities, and more, yet nearly one in ten households in Hawaiʻi does not have internet access.”
Hawaiʻi has received an initial investment of $320 million in Federal funding to build the critical infrastructure and increase digital literacy and equity, and it expects additional funding over the next five years.
According to the press release, the program aims to “meet people where they are, physically and at their level of digital readiness.”
The state is looking for feedback on the program from the communities it plans to serve, and it will hold public listening sessions. Additionally, public comments for Hawaiʻi’s Initial Proposal will be accepted until Dec. 10, 2023.
Once the state gathers input on how to best serve the communities, it will then submit the complete Initial Proposal to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) by the end of 2024.
“Our unique geography contributed to our state’s high percentage of residents without internet,” said Kaʻala Souza, digital equity consultant. “Connect Kākou is designed to ensure that no one is left behind and our community has the tools to achieve digital literacy.”