The University of Hawaii (UH) and Ocean Networks, Inc (ONI) are collaborating on a subsea cable system connecting the islands of Hawaii.

The project has been named the Hawaiian Islands Fiber Link (HIFL) and falls under the state's broadband initiative, Connect Kakou.

Hawaiian Island Fiber Link
– Ocean Networks, Inc

The subsea cable is expected to require an investment of around $120 million. The funding will be partially covered by a federal grant and the remaining by ONI through private equity and secured debt.

Expected to be ready for operations in 2026, the cable system will be carrier-neutral and open-access and will land on the islands of Oʻahu, Hawaii, Maui, Kauaʻi, Lānaʻi and Molokaʻi. It will have 24 fiber pairs and a design life of 25 years.

ONI will also be responsible for the supply, construction, operations, and maintenance of the inter-island cable system.

“This inter-island cable system will leverage the once-in-a-generation federal investment for technological infrastructure and position our state for long-term economic growth,” said Hawaii governor Josh Green. “The resulting network will be open to all carriers and sufficiently robust to support all manner of telecommunications carrier and enterprise traffic, including anticipated future high-capacity demands supporting healthcare, education, research, public service, commerce, and government uses.”

The project will be overseen by the University of Hawaii System Office for Information Technology, with support from the Research Corporation for the University.

“We are very pleased to be partnering with Ocean Networks,” said Garret Yoshimi, UH vice president for Information Technology and CIO. “The Ocean Networks team has significant industry experience, specifically working here in Hawaii. It’s an honor for UH to play an important role in connecting Hawaiʻi to the future.”

Hawaii has several subsea cables landing on its islands, including the Paniola Cable Network, the Hawaii Inter-Island Cable System, the Asia-America Gateway, SEA-US, Telstra Endeavor, Southern Cross Cable Network, Hawaiki, Honotua, and Japan-U.S.

A 1997 cable system, known as the Hawaii Island Fiber Network spans the islands on presumably a similar route to the newly announced HIFL, connecting Kauai to O'ahu, with a second branch then connecting O'ahu to Moloka'i, Maui, and Hawaii.

Hawaii is also going to be connected to the Hawaiki Nui Submarine Cable, as a result of the planned extension to the Pacific Islands announced in October 2023. Which islands will be included has not yet been specified.

ONI has previously worked on the $300m Caribbean Express cable which will connect Florida to Panama.