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After decades of having only one provider, Hawaiian Home Lands residents finally have more internet options

Department of Hawaiian Home Lands
Department of Hawaiian Home Lands

The state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands announced last week that it is lifting the clause that forced nearly every Hawaiian homesteader since the mid-90s to choose from one internet service provider.

For nearly 30 years, some Hawaiian Home Lands residents have had little-to-no say in the quality of their internet service — an issue stemming from a decades-old exclusivity clause.

Sandwich Isles Communications became DHHL’s exclusive telecom service provider in 1995, investing millions in building an undersea fiber optic cable network that connected the entire state.

The company ran into legal and financial trouble in 2015, which prevented it from making much-needed upgrades. Homesteaders began to take notice, but there was no other option until now.

Sandwich Isles customers can choose to continue their service or choose from other providers including Hawaiian Telcom and Spectrum.

DHHL Deputy Director Tyler Iokepa Gomes says this is just the beginning of the department’s efforts to increase digital equity to the native Hawaiian community.

The Department will receive at least $90 million dollars from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to provide high-speed internet access to Hawaiian homesteaders.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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