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What’s New in Digital Equity: $120M Undersea Cable Project Launched in Hawaii

Plus, registration has closed for Net Inclusion 2024, Oklahoma and Kansas get funding for broadband, and a report seeks to uncover the best broadband technology investment.

Image of the HIFL project will be a carrier-neutral, open-access system with landing sites on Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, Lānai and Molokai.
Image credit: the University of Hawai’i and Ocean Networks, Inc.
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


A submarine optical fiber cable system will help expand connectivity throughout the state, thanks to a $120 million public-private partnership between the University of Hawaii (UH) and Ocean Networks Inc. (ONI) announced this week.

The project is known as the Hawaiian Islands Fiber Link (HIFL), and it is a major part of the state’s broadband initiative, known as Connect Kākou. This effort was formally launched in November 2023 by Hawaii Lt. Gov. Sylvia Luke, who is leading the initiative in partnership with several entities, including the University of Hawaii.

According to the announcement, the HIFL project will be a carrier-neutral, open-access system with landing sites on Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Kauai, Lānai and Molokai. The project will be leveraging funding from a federal grant and additional funds secured by ONI. The system is expected to be ready for service in late 2026.

“This inter-island cable system will leverage the once-in-a-generation federal investment for technological infrastructure, and position our state for long-term economic growth,” said Gov. Josh Green.

The project will be overseen by the UH System Office for Information Technology, while ONI will be responsible for the supply, construction, operations and maintenance of the system.

As Green underlined in the announcement, the system will support telecommunications needs for a range of sectors, including government, education and beyond. (Julia Edinger)


With so much talk of late around the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) — and it's importance to digital equity — one might be wondering what they can do to support it and its extension.

Well, now activists have organized some helpful resources that address just that at, complete with a ticker counting the days until the program is slated to end. From there, the site has tools to stress the importance of the ACP to Americans, to contact Congress, and to share information about it all with others, too.

The site is supported by the Affordable Broadband Campaign, a nonprofit organization. And once again, you can find it here. (Zack Quaintance)


    Net Inclusion 2024 is slated for later this month, running from Feb. 13-15 in Philadelphia. Now, registration has closed and the slate of panels at the event have been announced.

    Put simply, this is the nation's premiere gathering of digital inclusion experts and practitioners. As such, the organizers of the event — the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) — have released a bit of a primer for attendees, as well as for folks who have an interest in it from afar. First and foremost, the NDIA is expecting a record-setting 1,200 attendees, which comes after last year's 800 attendees set a new record.

    And among those attendees are some prominent speakers, including FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker, and more (full disclosure, I myself am speaking on a panel there Feb. 14, about media coverage and digital equity).

    The topics of the panels are varied, including things like rural outreach for digital inclusion, building data-backed digital equity strategies, AI as it applies to digital equity, and more.

    You can find the full list of events here. (Zack Quaintance)


    The Oklahoma Broadband Governing Board authorized 142 broadband expansion projects in 57 counties last week. Some $374 million in grant funding from the ARPA State and Local Fiscal Recovery funds, paired with $90 million in matching funds from Internet service providers, will support expanded access to high-speed Internet in the state of Oklahoma.

    “Expanding rural broadband has been a top priority of my administration … and as we look to expand Oklahoma’s footprint in the AI industry, closing the digital divide has never been more important,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt in the announcement.

    Projects were selected and approved based on a list compiled from the Oklahoma Broadband Office. All projects must be completed before the end of 2026. (Julia Edinger)


    Kansas is making $10 million available through its Broadband Acceleration Grant Program, the state has announced.

    The state also announced some specifics for folks interested in applying for this money. The maximum grant amount here will be $1 million, qualifying programs must meet the speed threshold of 100/20 megabits per second, there is a 50 percent funds matching requirement and there must be co-investment by sources other than the grant applicant.

    “Building digital infrastructure enables KOBD to serve underserved and unserved Kansans, supporting buildout in previously neglected areas,” said Jade Piros de Carvalho, the Kansas Office of Broadband Development (KOBD) director. “The Broadband Acceleration Program allows KOBD to strategically align with our Five-Year Action Plan, working towards the goal of bringing affordable broadband to every corner of the state.”

    More information can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)


    A new report from the Broadband Internet Technical Advisory Group (BITAG) explores different broadband technologies in an effort to assess which is the best investment.

    The report explored hybrid fiber coaxial networks; digital subscriber line, fiber-to-the-premises; licensed and unlicensed fixed wireless access; mobile, low-earth orbit satellite; and Wi-Fi.

    BITAG’s conclusion in the report is that there is no single best technical solution, but rather that a variety of technologies can help meet the unique connectivity needs of users. “The bottom line for any policymakers or grant makers, is that all of these technologies should be considered; don’t leave out any potential tools in the toolbox, so to speak,” the report notes. (Julia Edinger)
    Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.
    Associate editor for <i>Government Technology</i> magazine.