S.R. NO.













REQUESTING THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS TO establish a working group to develop funding sources for rural broadband improvements.



     WHEREAS, broadband connectivity is the critical infrastructure of the 21st century, and as such the State recognizes robust broadband infrastructure as foundational to Hawaii's economic future and, as importantly, the quality of life of all its residents; and


     WHEREAS, in 2012 the state broadband strategic plan was developed to provide information and a framework for the creation of policies and programs to address the challenges faced in meeting both state and national broadband goals.  The plan supported grant-seeking at the state and county levels to implement the recommended policies, programs, and activities to advance broadband access and use statewide; and


     WHEREAS, the economic and business incentives to deploy broadband infrastructure continue to be insufficient to ensure full access to broadband services in low-density, rural locations, and other unserved and underserved areas of the State; and


     WHEREAS, economically feasible deployment of infrastructure for high—speed broadband across the State, especially to low population density areas, presents a formidable challenge because the unit costs of providing broadband service may not provide an adequate return on investment; and


     WHEREAS, the unique geography of the State prevents the use of less costly options than broadband services for connectivity by rural areas; and


     WHEREAS, in March 2020, the coronavirus disease 2019 was detected in the state, upending all that residents knew as normal.  Governor Ige was joined by the Mayors from all four counties in mandating restrictions and policies on operations, travel between the islands, and work-from-home policies; and


     WHEREAS, the drastic and sudden change required leaders and managers in government, business, education, and nonprofits to expeditiously address functions and communications to perform their duties in a virtual mode; and


     WHEREAS, the pandemic and its broad adverse economic impact underscored that access to broadband services in unserved and underserved areas of Hawaii would enhance economic development, education, healthcare, public safety, and emergency services in those areas; and


     WHEREAS, with thousands in the State forced to function from residences, workers relied on the quality of their internet connections for access to virtual communications; and


     WHEREAS, in establishing distance learning procedures, public and private schools soon discovered that pockets of students needed tailored solutions for access to hardware and to Wi-Fi; and


     WHEREAS, while nonprofits adjusted annual plans to effectively serve their target populations virtually and the State relied on social media and websites to keep constituents informed on the latest developments and public health procedures, the common thread was broadband access, and the dependence on access to broadband infrastructure; and


     WHEREAS, although broadband coverage in the State is widespread, additional investment must be made to respond to the needs of rural and low-income communities to bridge the digital divide; now, therefore,


     BE IT RESOLVED by the Senate of the Thirty-first Legislature of the State of Hawaii, Regular Session of 2021, that the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism is requested to establish a working group to facilitate the development of funding sources to increase broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas of Hawaii, by identifying and addressing remaining obstacles to full deployment of broadband infrastructure to all areas of Hawaii; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the members of the working group is urged to consist of:


     (1)  The Director of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, to serve as the chair;


     (2)  One member of the Senate, to be appointed by the President of the Senate;


     (3)  One member of the House of Representatives, to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives;


     (4)  One representative of the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Cable Television Division; and


     (5)  At least one representative from Charter Spectrum Communications, Hawaiian Telcom, or other Hawaii broadband internet service provider; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the rural broadband working group is requested to submit a report of its findings and recommendations, including any proposed legislation, to the Legislature no later than twenty days prior to the convening of the Regular Session of 2023; and


     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that certified copies of this Resolution be transmitted to the Governor; Director of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; and Director of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.









Report Title: 

Rural Broadband Infrastructure; Funding Sources; Working Group