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Hawaii Broadband Task Force Aims to Tackle Problems of Speed, Competition

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Broadband Census Hawaii

By William G. Korver, Reporter,

August 9 – In an attempt to increase speeds, lower prices and enhance consumer choices, the Hawaii legislature last year created a Hawaiian Broadband Task Force to study problems associated with high-speed internet access.

Download speeds on the island state are the slowest in the nation, according to a May 2008 report by Akamai, a company that helps web operators manage and accelerate bandwidth delivery.

Only 2.4 percent of Hawaiian users reached Akamai's network at speeds of more than than 5 Megabits per second, according to the report. That compares to 60 percent of Delaware users, 42 percnet of Rhode Island users, and 36 percent of New York users.

The goal of the Hawaiian Broadband Task Force is to "encourage lower prices for broadband services and create more consumer choices." The task force highlighted the role of “gaining wider access to public rights-of-way” in its December 2007 initial report.

In addition to removing barriers to broadband access, the Task Force is assigned to finding ways to increase broadband deployment and adoption and enable the development and distribution of new communication technologies in the state of Hawaii.

Initial working groups are focusing on what other states and countries are doing, data collection about broadband deployment, why broadband matters, and federal involvement.

The members of the Hawaiian Broadband Task Force include three members of the state senate, three the state house of representatives, four representatives from federal, state, and county government entities, and five technical experts from the private sector .

The HBTF's first interim report was given to the legislature in 2008, and its final report is due in December 2008.

Nevertheless, Hawaii seeks to be included in the Asia-America Gateway, which should cost about $500 million. The gateway should provide a minimum capacity of 1.28 terabits per second and up to 1.92 terabits per second and directly link Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Guam, Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast, according to Telstra International.

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