HVCA Panel: 5G and Fiberoptic Broadband Top Priorities

Dec 1, 2017

(L-R, seated) Luis Salaveria, Todd Nacapuy and Sunshine Topping. Standing, Rep. Mark Nakashima, Meli James and Sen. Glenn Wakai
Credit Wayne Yoshioka

The Hawai’i Venture Capital Association hosted a panel discussion future legislation and funding. HPR’s Wayne Yoshioka reports.

The state’s Chief Innovation Officer and head of the Office of Enterprise Services, Todd Nacapuy, says his legislative priority is to modernize government and upgrade 40 year old computer systems.  He says in the last year-and a half they have implemented a digital signature system with the goal of achieving a paperless state government.

“So if you need the governor to sign something, someone would walk a piece of paper around, all the way to the governor’s office to get it signed.  It would take 4 weeks.  We’re down to 2 days.  We’re also trying to reduce the amount of paper that we print.  My office alone, prints 42-thousand pages a day.  We print all of our pay stubs.  Okay?  Eighty-thousand people.  We print a pay stub and we deliver that pay stub to the individual.  If you’re on a neighbor island, we courier it over there.”

Senator Glenn Wakai, who chairs the Economic Development, Tourism and Technology Committee, says his top priority will be to authorize 5th Generation or 5-G Wireless networks in Hawai’i.

“If we’re going to be embracing the idea of one day having driverless cars, we better have the broadband in our communities to be able to have those broadband cars function and we weren’t able to achieve that this past year.”

Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism director, Luis Salaveria, says the state needs fiber-optic cable landing sites for broadband and a public-private partnership that works within government financing rules is what’s needed.

“We are going to create a real relationship between the private sector and the public sector in terms of the delivery of what we consider critical infrastructure.  And what we consider critical infrastructure are these cable landing sites because that essentially is our connection with the rest of the world.  No matter what anybody says about satellites and wireless and everything, 99.9 percent of the world’s data traffic is trafficked through fiber optic cables that run through the ocean.”

There are150 high technology startup companies in Hawai’i, most of them created since 2013.  Hawai’I Venture Capital Association president, Meli James, says legislative support is needed to help entrepreneurs complement and grow Hawai’i businesses.

“As we look at innovation more broadly, it’s beyond tech, it’s beyond what has traditionally been seen as innovation.  What are these industries in Hawai’i that we can start putting support behind.  For instance, Ag and other different industries that are circling innovation.”

For HPR News, I’m Wayne Yoshioka.