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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Hawaiian Home Lands seeks to wire homestead sites

 •  Native Hawaiians on Big Island to get cable link

By James Gonser
Advertiser Leeward Bureau

 •  Comments

The public has until April 23 to comment on the O'ahu rural fiber-optic cable project. Send comments, with four copies, to Sandwich Isles Communications, 1001 Bishop St., Pauahi Tower, 27th Floor, Honolulu, HI 96813.

KAPOLEI — A project to connect all 69 state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands homestead sites with fiber-optic cable is set to begin in July, but residents are not looking forward to the noise, dust and congestion associated with such construction.

The first phase will be running 20 miles of line from Kalaeloa to Wai'anae along Farrington Highway.

The $35 million project, being developed by Sandwich Isles Communications, is detailed in a draft environmental assessment filed last month with the state Office of Environmental Quality Control.

The fiber-optic cable will be used to carry telephone, television and computer data, consultant Ronald Sato told the Makakilo/Kapolei/Honokai Hale Neighborhood Board, and eventually could connect the various homestead sites through an in-house television station.

Sandwich Isles Communications plans to lay underground cables alongside city and state roads for about 113 miles on O'ahu, from the Leeward Coast to the North Shore, through Honolulu and around Hawai'i Kai to Waimanalo.

Several residents at the board meeting expressed dismay at the need to tear up the roads.

"They just finished digging up and repaving Farrington Highway near the Villages of Kapolei, and now you're telling us you will be digging it all up again?" board member Linda Young said.

Board of Education member Marilyn Harris said several other projects already are planned along Farrington Highway on the Wai'anae Coast, including cable-laying by another company.

TGN Hawaii Cable Systems plans to install fiber-optic cable landings at Poka'i Bay Beach Park and Kahe Point Beach Park, and to dig cable trenches along Farrington Highway. TGN hopes to start work on the $15 million project in July and complete it by December.

"Farrington Highway should have a zipper with so many cable and other projects going on," Harris said.

Sandwich Isles representative Larry Fukunaga said construction work is coordinated though a city and state committee to make sure projects like this are done at the same time.

Some work will be done at night, and some will be done around the clock in unpopulated areas to help quicken the process.

Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, D-21st (Barbers Point, Makaha), attended the meeting and told the group that the cable is planned eventually to link all the islands.

"It could become an alternative to the telephone service as we know it today for the Hawaiian community," Hanabusa said. "It should become a new economic base for them."

The cable will benefit homelands residents by providing low-cost, high-quality telecommunication services and creating employment and educational opportunities, according to the draft environmental assessment.

Fukunaga said the project is being paid for by the Public Utilities Commission with money from a fee added to all telephone subscribers' phone bills that is used to provide service to rural areas.

Sandwich Isles Communications was issued a license in May 1995 by the Hawaiian Home Lands commission to build and operate a broadband telecommunications network throughout all DHHL properties.

After all necessary city and state permits are approved, the first phase is expect to be completed by early next year, Sato said.

Cables would be placed in four foot deep trenches on the mauka side of the roads within the shoulder, sidewalk, or paved travel lanes when necessary.

Cable landings are planned at Makaha and Hale'iwa to connect the line with Asia and the Pacific Islands, and at Waimanalo to connect to the Neighbor Islands, Sato said.

The company is scheduled to make a presentation on the project before the Wai'anae Coast Neighborhood Board at its monthly meeting April 3.