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Hawaii to Close Fiber-Optic Gap as Project Nears Completion

Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom will share space on relocated power lines through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to complete the island’s broadband loop. The project will close a 22-mile gap from Volcano to Pahala.

by The Honolulu Star-Advertiser / October 13, 2020
Shutterstock/FlashMovie

(TNS) — A project nearing completion is expected to close a gap in Hawaii island’s fiber optic system and ensure a stable communications network for Internet and cellphone customers.

Hawaii County Information Technology Director Jules Ung said the project is on schedule to be completed by next month, West Hawaii Today reported last week.

Hawaiian Electric Co. is upgrading and relocating power lines through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, which will allow Spectrum and Hawaiian Telcom to share space on the poles to complete the island’s broadband loop.

Hawaiian Electric said two of three project phases were recently completed.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs reported in 2013 that the island’s fiber “ring” has a 22-mile gap from Volcano to Pahala. Any break in service results in Internet and cellphone service disruptions down the rest of the line.

There have been several system breakdowns over the years, including a 20-hour disruption in 2013. A six-hour outage in 2015 affected 25,000 phones and 5,500 West Hawaii Internet users.

In addition to communication security, DCCA estimated increased capacity would benefit underserved communities near the gap including Volcano Village, Pahala, Naalehu and the area between Keaau and Pahoa.

“We’re building up redundancy,” Ung said. “However, we desperately need to close that loop.”

Ung, a member of the state Broadband Assistance Advisory Council, said the project took longer than anticipated because environmental assessments needed to be complete before work could begin.

The National Park Service said last year an assessment found the project had no significant environmental impact.

©2020 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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