Lonely Planet Writer

Hawaii sets aside millions to fund better broadband for tourist appeal

Endless beaches, year-round sunshine, grand canyons and magnificent volcanic landscapes … the islands of Hawaii seem to have it all.

Hawaii
Hawaii Image by Rose Braverman / CC BY 2.0

Now, the US state wants to make its broadband network just as enviable to make it a more attractive destination for high-tech companies and for tourists. An investment pot of US$25 million has been set aside to help fund a new trans-Pacific cable that would bring lightning fast internet connections to the islands.

Access to the internet in Hawaii – despite their remote location in the Pacific – is very high and according to one study, the state ranks as the fifth “most connected” in the entire US. However, broadband speeds are nowhere near as good, and one study last year ranked Hawaii 46 out of the 50 states, with frequent complaints made by local residents, businesses and visitors about slow connections and also high prices.

Hawaii wants to speed up its broadband.
Hawaii wants to speed up its broadband. Image by photosteve101 / CC BY 2.0

The state’s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism has just launched a scheme looking for companies to work with the local government on options for increasing online speeds. Director of the Department Luis Salaveria said: “Our innovation initiatives requires boosting our overall broadband capacity, which will help stimulate the tech sector and our local economy. “By investing in our broadband infrastructure, we will attract high-tech companies to Hawaii … and ensure our business community remains globally competitive.”

Hawaii attracts more than 600,000 visitors every month with the majority of them coming from the United States and Canada. However, two key markets for them are Japan (where 20% of their visitors hail from) and also China. Destinations all around the world are trying to tap into the burgeoning wealth of China, but have found that universal access to high speed internet is in even higher demand among visitors from Asia when compared to other regions.