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August 24, 2011 10:36 AM

Hawaii First State In America To Go Big For A Gig

Yesterday Hawaii's governor announced his intentions to be the first state in America to pursue the goal of all its citizens having access to affordable gigabit service in their homes by 2018.

While details are scarce, this will be an official state initiative co-managed by the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs and the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism.

This is a huge deal, especially for a state that's been ranked 31st by some measures in current broadband connectivity.

Now, there's no specific promises being made yet of public funding coming available, nor is there any sense for how this network's going to get built and who's going to pay for and own it, but I have to give them credit for publicly announcing that they're at least going to try.

What Hawaii Gov. Ambercrombie has realized is that the future of his state's economy as well as the quality of life of his state's citizens relies upon the availability of high capacity low cost bandwidth, and that the only way these networks are going to get built in a rapid ubiquitous fashion is with at least some measure of government leadership and support.

I also like how they're combining the efforts of two significant government agencies in this process. An initiative like this demands cross-department collaboration throughout, so hopefully these agencies can work well together to drive this initiative forward hard.

And drive it hard they will have to. While Hawaii is not a big state geographically, it may have some deployment challenges with its mountainous terrain. But more significantly, no one's gone after a statewide residential gigabit network before, and there are so many questions that need to be answered before the actual design and deployment of the network can even begin.

I don't know a lot about the dynamics of Hawaii's current government, economy, and telecommunications infrastructure, so I can't prognosticate too specifically about whether or not I think this project has a good chance at succeeding.

What I do know, though, is that it is such a relief to see an elected official above the local level step up for this vitally important cause. If nothing else, Hawaii's announcement should draw attention to these issues, and hopefully help spur others at the state and federal level to gain the courage to speak out in bolder terms about what the future of our country's broadband infrastructure needs to be.

With countries around the globe driving hard to deliver gigabit service to their citizenry through fiber, and America standing at a critical juncture in our future as world economic leaders across multiple fronts, we can not afford to take our eye off this most critical of infrastructure for supporting growth in the 21st century.

And with leaders like Gov. Abercrombie, I grow increasingly confident that we can remember and rekindle the greatest that lies within us as a nation to come together to build this crucial enabler of our future.

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