Hawaii Teleport to see streams of cash from Kabul
HAWAII Pacific Teleport LP
, out Kapolei-way, has received federal permission to be a big link in the sky between the United States and Afghanistan.
The Federal Communications Commission announced yesterday it had granted Hawaii Pacific Teleport permanent authority to provide satellite service to Kabul, the capital.
The grant took effect March 7, permanently extending temporary authority that had allowed them to initiate service five weeks ago, said Vince Waterson, HPT vice president of business development.
"We had a lot of delays, ... but now we have a license to uplink from HPT onto this satellite (called) JCSAT5A," he said.
HPT officials have been talking with the U.S. military about installing wireless networks for soldiers to use to communicate homeward via the 'Net.
It would be "the first ever in Kabul," Waterson said.
HPT has a U.S.-managed, local partner in Afghanistan to provide infrastructure in Kabul and the four cities to which it plans to expand.
Also, "one of the problems in Kabul is that -- and you'll be amazed at this -- nobody takes credit cards, because there is no communication system."
The military can't use its government procurement cards, because businesses there "haven't got credit card merchant status," he said.
During his recent trip to Kabul, even the five-star hotel where he stayed could not take credit cards; he had to use cash.
"Having people walking around Kabul with all that cash probably isn't such a good idea."
Connecting Kabul merchants to the Internet allows them have point-of-sale machines that can take soldiers' credit cards, Waterson said.
"That means that the U.S. soldiers will then have the ability to purchase goods locally," he said.
HPT is starting with the military "because we had an inquiry from them," but Visa and Mastercard could follow, said Waterson.
Hawaii provides the only U.S.-based opportunity for a "single-hop communication link" to Afghanistan. Mainland teleports can't reach it without multiple hops.
"The (other) satellite services have to go through Europe, or alarmingly, through Russia."
In addition to security concerns, linking through Hawaii will improve voice and videoconferencing quality, he said.
"In the telephone business, if the latency on the voice call is seven-tenths per second, 700 milliseconds, people have a tendency to talk over each other," which can happen when the signal goes through Europe and back, "so we're offering a better deal."
HPT is a "a bit of a late-comer," he admitted, but the not-insignificant U.S. soil factor could be a strong selling point.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org