Chapter 11 will help company keep isle residents connected


POSTED: Sunday, February 01, 2009
This story has been corrected. See below.

As many know, Hawaiian Telcom recently filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11. The filing will allow us to restructure our balance sheet and to be more competitive in these tough economic times and especially for the long haul.

Recently, we have seen a number of venerable kamaaina companies, like Aloha Airlines, close their doors because of the sudden downturn in the economy. But we also have seen companies like Hawaiian Airlines reorganize under Chapter 11 and come back stronger and better equipped to contribute to the state's economy.

Some might be tempted to shrug off Hawaiian Telcom's situation as something that doesn't concern them. But it does.

  Hawaiian Telcom is a 125-year-old kamaaina company with a long and proud history of delivering essential products and services to the state. Our team of more than 1,400 employees gives us the talent, skills and commitment that allow us to successfully meet the communications needs of Hawaii's local community and drive our state's economic vitality.

Most residents are unaware of the extent to which they depend on Hawaiian Telcom for a variety of telecommunications and data services. Hawaiian Telcom provides direct communications services to more than 500,000 access lines and almost 100,000 high-speed internet customers throughout the state. Even if you use another telecommunications provider, your conversations, e-mail or data likely go through our network.

We own the state's most extensive telecommunications network, enabling us to:

» operate the state's emergency 911 service and provide services to Civil Defense, Hawaii Army National Guard and TDD relay for the hearing impaired;

» provide the majority of communications services to all major hospitals and trauma centers in Hawaii;

» deliver vital support to the Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Emergency Management Agency, along with other essential federal services;

» carry the majority of communications services for three of the four largest local financial institutions and up to 85 percent of the state's ATMs; and

» provide voice services to the state government, including the Department of Education and more than 200 public schools and most state libraries.

In addition, we have more than 50 separate wholesale relationships with wireless, long-distance and other competitive carriers and Internet service providers. They all rely on Hawaiian Telcom for critical elements of their network infrastructure, which are essential to the success of their business operations and the broader economic activity of the state.

We install and maintain infrastructure not only for Honolulu, where the majority of our customer base is located, but we also provide service to other parts of the state where population density is extremely low and difficult to serve, such as Hana and Molokai.

In fact, Hawaiian Telcom is often the only carrier willing and able to provide service to these areas.

But it is Hawaiian Telcom's role in addressing Hawaii's isolation and susceptibility to natural disasters that make our capability of providing reliable services even more critical.

  During Oahu's islandwide blackout on Dec. 26, we provided service for Hawaii Civil Defense, which enables the agency to broadcast to all radio stations throughout the islands in emergency situations. Those who had our high-speed Internet service and backup power or a battery-operated laptop were still able to get online and stay in contact with news outlets and essential services.

During the earthquake and subsequent power outage two years ago, our network infrastructure survived intact. On the day of the quake, we handled 22 million calls, more than double the average Sunday call volume, which allowed people to keep in touch with loved ones and local emergency responders to perform their duties.

Whether we provide services to you directly or support businesses that support you, we are the information highway that allows Hawaii's businesses to compete in the global economy and for Hawaii's people to stay connected with the rest of the world and each other even during natural disasters.

We believe we have a sound, long-term strategic plan in place to reinvigorate our business. And you have my steadfast commitment that we will remain focused on continuing to deliver you those services and meeting your needs for another 125 years.

Eric Yeaman is president and chief executive officer of Hawaiian Telcom.





        » Originally, the headline of this column referred to a Chapter 12 bankruptcy filing by Hawaiian Telcom. The company filed for Chapter 11.