Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The transformative technology of our generation...

That's what David Lassner, the Chief Information Officer at the University of Hawaii, called broadband service. Lassner chairs The Hawaii Broadband Task Force that has begun work to examine the current state and future potential of high-speed internet access in Hawaii.

Why do we need a task force? The problem is that the speed and affordability of broadband in the U.S., including Hawaii, has not kept pace with other developed countries worldwide.

"Among the top economies worldwide in 2005, the US ranked sixteenth in broadband penetration," said Rep. Kyle Yamashita, who introduced HB310 establishing the task force. "In Hawaii today, the fastest broadband connections available are between eleven and fifteen megabits per second. When you look at the country as a whole, that's great service. But when you compare it to Japan, where one hundred megabits per second is routine, it's not as impressive. And when you consider cost on a per megabit basis, customers in Japan pay far less than customers here."

In addition to Lassner, Yamashita, and Senator Carol Fukunaga, the other members of the task force are: Vice Chair Nam Vu from ShakaNet, Inc.; Gary Caulfield from First Hawaiian Bank; Joel Matsunaga from Hawaiian Telcom; Henk Rogers from BluePlanet Wireless; Nate Smite from Oceanic Time Warner Cable; Gordon Bruce from the City and County of Honolulu; Clyde Sonobe from the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs; Jennifer Goto Sabas from the office of Senator Daniel K. Inouye; Senator Will Espero; Senator David Ige; Rep. Marcus Oshiro; and Rep. Gene Ward.

The Office of the Auditor will provide research and organizational support services. The task force will prepare a preliminary report for submission to the 2008 Legislature and a final report for the 2009 Legislature. For more info, check out http://www.hbtf.org/.

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