News

DHHL Applies For Broadband Services

August 13, 2020, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated August 12, 3:46 PM
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The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands (DHHL) has applied for broadband service for its lands across the state.

DHHL submitted five applications to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for unassigned spectrum in response to a Rural Tribal Priority Window that opened Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, and closes on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. Only federally recognized Tribes or Alaska Native Villages could apply for spectrum in the Window, DHHL said in a press release.

DHHL submitted its five applications after petitioning the FCC for a waiver in March.

The petition, co-signed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA) and the Hawaiʻi State Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT), detailed the unique trust relationship between the State of Hawaiʻi, DHHL, and native Hawaiians. The waiver affirms DHHL as the only entity with the legal standing to apply in the Window and implement broadband service on Hawaiian Home Lands, the release said.

“These applications represent a first step toward the Department’s telecom future,” said DHHL Deputy to the Chairman, Tyler Gomes. “We are hopeful the FCC will grant us these licenses and that we can improve broadband connectivity across current and future rural homestead communities on the neighbor islands.”

The spectrum available in the Rural Tribal Priority Window is a portion of the 2.5 GHz band. Applicants may designate their own desired license areas, so long as the applicant has a local presence in the area and the entire area is approved rural land.

For this application, the term “rural” means that an area that does not include an urbanized area with a population of greater than 50,000 people, according to Census Bureau data. All five of DHHL’s applications were submitted for spectrum on the neighbor islands. The applications were completed with the assistance of Edyael Casaperalta, Irene Flannery, and Geoff Blackwell of AMERIND’s Critical Infrastructure division.

The 2.5 GHz band is suitable for both mobile coverage and fixed point-to-point uses and is currently used by educational licensees and commercial providers that lease the spectrum, the release said.

Successful applicants will receive a license from the FCC to use a portion of the 2.5 GHz band. Two years after the license is granted, licensees must submit evidence that they are providing service coverage to 50% of the population in their license areas. Five years after the license is granted, licensees must show they are providing service coverage to 80% of the population.

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