(The Center Square) - Hawaii will receive $115.5 million in grant money from the American Rescue Plan to improve broadband.
The money is part of the federal government's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package passed by Congress in 2021.
"The pandemic showed that there are access disparities in Hawaii, to affordable and reliable internet service," said Gov. Josh Green. "High-speed internet is critical for education, telehealth services, job opportunities, and information."
The University of Hawaii and the Department of Budget and Finance submitted a Capital Project Funds grant to the U.S. Department of Treasury during the Fall, which included a plan for two programs to develop broadband infrastructure and provide broadband connectivity in state public housing facilities.
"UH has led in bringing broadband connectivity in Hawaii for decades, from bringing the very first internet connections to Hawaii, to making Hawaii the first in the nation with fiber optic connectivity to every one of our public schools, public libraries and public higher education sites," said UH President David Lassner. "We are incredibly proud to now be the only institution of higher education to lead these vital next steps of developing the broadband infrastructure so critical today to work, education, healthcare and economic vitality for our entire state."
The new financing will fund efforts to reinforce aging broadband pipelines, among other things, according to UH Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Garret Yoshimi.
"As the most isolated populated place on the planet, we face unique communications challenges and rely on submarine cables to stay connected," said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz. "Improving our submarine cable infrastructure to ensure Hawai'i remains connected to the world and everyone in the state can get reliable, high-speed internet has been a focus of mine, and this funding will help make that a reality."