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COMMENTARY

Pssst! Share the Telecom Secret!


By Richard Moody
President, Aloha Conferencing

Something phenomenally important happened in Hawaii a few months ago that could have tremendous repercussions for the development of technology in our state. This subterranean event was barely covered by the press but this did not diminish its importance. No, it wasn't another earthquake or tsunami. And for a change it has nothing to do with tourism. What it portends, however, could help wean the state's economy away from dependence on tourism and spawn the growth of an entirely new industry.

What exactly occurred? Earlier this year our state was linked to the mainland by two fiber optic cables. `Big deal', you might say. It actually could be a very big deal. What it effectively means is that the Aloha State is no longer out of the technological loop.

For the first time in our telecommunications history, Hawaii is on technological par with every state in the union. We are now an integral part of the digital superhighway. What does this portend for Hawaii? A technocrat might say we're now capable of packet switching, high bit rate transmission, or video conferencing but that probably won't mean a lot to the average person.

The bottom line is that telecommunications-wise, Honolulu is just as connected to the mainland as New York is to Washington, DC. Thus, any Hawaii business that is dependent on sending or receiving data, voice or video transmissions can inexpensively communicate with the mainland.

What this means is that the State of Hawaii can promote itself as a place to do business in ways that were never possible before. This new technology, combined with ever-lower long distance rates, means telecommunications-related jobs that previously were only feasible on the mainland can now be done in Hawaii.

Want some examples? Anybody here can now set up a competitive nationwide answering or voicemail service. In the same vein a nationwide 800 number that terminates in Honolulu or a neighbor island could be used as a customer service center for a manufacturer.

Want to get really high-tech? Any company with online services (such as CompuServe or Prodigy), someone in the data broadcasting business, or someone with a huge database or library can use Hawaii as a business center and compete with any other locale on the mainland.

What about the cost of long distance service? Want to hear something you may not have realized? Long distance carriers no longer discriminate against Hawaii for long distance calls. It costs virtually the same to call San Francisco from Honolulu as it does to call New York from
Honolulu.


What does this mean for business growth in Hawaii?

Our marketing research indicates that a whole new telecommunications niche can flourish in the Aloha State if we play our cards right. We project that by the year 2000 the local long distance telecommunications industry can grow in this state from the $75 million business it is today to a $300 million annual business. By the turn of the century this could create approximately 5000 new, high paying jobs in the telecommunications industry and diversify the state economy while we're at it.

Now that you know about the potential that the new fiber optic lifeline to the mainland portends, let's look at what's wrong with the current scenario.

The most pressing problem is that virtually no one else in the country knows about Hawaii's new telecommunications capabilities. They still think we do business by satellite, which is much more expensive and less efficient.

Given the enormous budget that is spent on tourism promotion, why not spend a fraction of that on informing the rest of the nation on our new fiber optic capabilities?

Now that we are on the information superhighway, let's turn on the ignition and start rolling.

The Honolulu Advertiser

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