Saturday, Dec. 02, 2023|
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Ms. Warren’s letter to the editor on Sept. 1 regarding the availability of Hawaiian Telcom’s fiber optic service is full of inaccurate statements.
HTI hasn’t received hundreds of million dollars since 2000 to roll out fiber optic service on the Big Island. They started receiving federal grants to expand fiber optic availability in 2013 with the Connect America Fund I grant. They also qualified for the subsequent Connect America Fund II and Rural Digital Opportunity Fund grants. These funds have to be matched by HTI and used in rural, not urban, areas.
Hawaiian Telcom is slowly rolling out fiber to the home in more urbanized areas in West Hawaii, such as Kona Highlands, Coastview and Wonderview. However, the largest subdivision in the Kalaoa area, Kona Palisades, doesn’t have fiber optic service. In other words, there is more areas than Kealakekua and Holualoa that don’t have fiber to the home here.
Hawaiian Homelands is a special case since Sandwich Isles Communications previously had exclusive access to provide service on the homesteads. They still own the last mile duct lines. SIC has made it almost impossible to allow other providers access.
Broadband over power lines via HECO isn’t a realistic option. It’s due to limited bandwidth and opposition from the radio community. The power line conductors are usually unshielded, which produces interference to radio devices.
The question of allowing competition against Spectrum and HTI is due to high costs, wide unpopulated areas, and limited population. The return on investment isn’t there compared to other areas on the mainland where overbuilders are providing competition to the incumbent cable company and phone company.
Ms. Warren, I sympathize with your plight. HTI only ran fiber into my subdivision in May 2023. Spectrum was the only true broadband provider previously that serviced Kona Highlands. HTI previously offered 11 Mbps/3 Mbps DSL which is pittance compared to 1 Gbps service via Spectrum.
I strongly urge you to be patient, as either or both of these providers will service your broadband underserved area soon.
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