As part of its efforts to close the digital divide, Hawaii will receive $17.3 million in Federal funding to expand high-speed internet access in Native Hawaiian communities.
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, said in a press release that the Department of Commerce funding will be allocated to the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL).
“This funding will increase broadband internet access in Native Hawaiian communities across the state, helping families and small businesses get the high-speed internet they need and supporting the expansion of important services, including telehealth and remote learning,” said Sen. Schatz, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
The Federal funding is part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which expands broadband access on Tribal lands. With the funding, DHHL will be able to purchase new broadband equipment and software, new computers and personal devices, support for increased remote learning, telehealth, and digital inclusion programs, and staff needed for implementation. The funding will also support a DHHL survey of Native Hawaiian households, with the data gathered used to help develop a statewide collective broadband strategy.
“During the pandemic, we all learned how critical access to high-speed internet is to our daily lives,” Hawaiian Homes Commission Chair William J. Ailā, Jr. said in a statement. “These grant funds will provide the opportunity for broadband use and adoption activities to alleviate many connectivity issues highlighted throughout our communities during that time. The department staff looks forward to bringing fiber to the Trust Lands and ensuring that beneficiaries have the access and devices they need to move forward in the 21st century.”