David Lassner presented the results of the Broadband Taskforce findings in this month's Hawaii Science and Technology Council (HSTC) meeting. The taskforce was put together by the Legislature in 2007 to provide a recommendation on what should be done to develop broadband access in Hawaii. In 2008 the taskforce completed their final report and submitted it to the Legislature. Even the Governor got behind a broadband initiative. During the 2009 session SB895 was introduced to establish the Communications Commission which ultimately did not pass. here. The primary take away is the if Hawaii is to stay competitive with the world, focus needs to be placed on having a Statewide focus on establishing a broadband strategy and focusing on it. Like the transportation system, broadband is essential infrastructure that cuts across all sectors of the economy. The stark realization is that Hawaii is almost dead last in all the broadband surveys conducted by various organizations assessing nationwide performance. We obviously have our work cut out for us. [podcast]http://www.roughtake.com/bc_podcasts/Broadband_in_Hawaii.mp3[/podcast]
Although I was thankful for getting let go from Hawaiian Tel in January 2008, it still pains me to see what has happen to this company. Today it was announced in both the Advertiser and Star Bulletin that Hawaiian Tel files for bankruptcy protection. I've been a telcom jock since returning to Hawaii in the 80s. To see this company go from the primary telecom provider to a mere after thought is humbling. I originally left Hawaiian Tel back in 1995 when it was
Verizon GTE only to return in 2005 to find out how the Carlyle Group was going to take this local company public. Unfortunately it became quickly obvious the Carlyle execs did not know how to run a local telco. The back office system needed to be built from scratch and they put all their bets on Bearing Point to build that back office. Suffice it to say, that did not work and Acenture was brought in to do damage control. All the while customers were suffering and the company wasn't rolling out any new services to ward off the land line erosion.
In 2005 HT was talking quad play: voice, video, Internet and wireless. By the end of 2007 it was a dual play with only voice and Internet, both very low margin businesses. The writing was on the wall. You might think HT faced the perfect storm: competition from national wireless companies and the cable company, no new service offerings, low margin Internet access, but no one predicted the financial market meltdown.
Hopefully Hawaiian Telcom will emerge like Hawaiian Airlines did, a stronger company but to do that there needs to be some radical changes. Worst case scenario, the State of Hawaii takes over and HT becomes a ward of the PUC. For what it is worth, I still have my landline because cell phone voice quality sucks, although that is made up for with mobility. I have both a DSL and cable modem for Internet because I can never do without my Internet connection.