By Tyler Iokepa Gomes
Broadband telecommunication customers on Hawaiian Home Lands now have more options under the lifting of a former exclusivity clause that allowed only one provider to issue telecommunication products. Recent Federal law, coupled with expanded service options, will now allow service users on the homelands to obtain telecommunications services from a provider of their choice.
For many years, Sandwich Isle Communications, Inc. (SIC) was the exclusive provider of broadband telecommunications services under DHHL License No. 372 (License 372) which was issued to SIC’s parent company, Waimana Enterprises, Inc. on May 9, 1995.
On June 30, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a Memorandum Opinion and Order determining that all exclusivity claims arising from License 372 are preempted by federal law and are therefore unenforceable.
Subsequently, on Aug. 31, 2021, Hawaiian Telcom (HT) completed the purchase of interisland submarine and middle-mile terrestrial fiber infrastructure assets from the bankruptcy estate of the Paniolo Cable Company, a firm previously within the Waimana Enterprises, Inc., family of companies.
HT’s purchase of the bankrupt Paniolo Cable Company assets did not include any previously negotiated commercial agreements with SIC. Use of the inter-island submarine and middle-mile system by SIC to provide broadband telecommunications services to Hawaiian Home Lands will end on Mar. 31, 2022, unless a new agreement can be reached.
The FCC’s 2017 Order, combined with HT’s purchase of telecommunications assets on DHHL lands, means that DHHL lessees, tenants, and permittees now have more options for broadband telecommunications services. In addition, a new conduit use agreement between SIC and Charter Communications, which does business as Spectrum in Hawaiʻi, will also open additional services.
Current SIC customers may choose to continue their current service or select services from other providers, including Hawaiian Telcom, Spectrum, or other carriers who can provide broadband telecommunications services.
Tyler Iokepa Gomes is deputy to the chairman of the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.