Businesses come together to provide a ‘critical lifeline’ for West Maui — wifi

All thanks to the Maui Tech Hui, which flew in a slew of power generators and more than 50 starlink internet terminals - receiving signals from satellites
Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 5:21 AM HST|Updated: Aug. 24, 2023 at 11:26 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More cell phones and laptops are starting to work again in West Maui thanks to a group of businesses that’s installed dozens of communication hotspots throughout the community.

The north side of Lahaina, with its boats, coastal highway and black rocks along the shoreline looks much like it has for decades.

But at Hanakao’o park there’s another sign the town has changed forever — people in this parking lot, on their phones, making calls to get their lives back on track.

Retired investment banker Don Kellum is among those desperately in need of a good wi-fi signal.

“There’s so much work to do to get the insurance started and get the lawsuits set up,” Kellum said.

He’s been spending his days in the parking lot using the Starlink satellite.

There are eight trucks stationed around Lahaina with wires dangling out the back for anyone who needs a free charge.

All thanks to the group “Maui Tech Hui” which flew in a slew of power generators and more than 50 Starlink internet terminals, receiving signals from orbiting satellites.

The group includes the 15th Space Surveillance Squadron, Boeing, Mahi Pono, and the startup company Privateer ran by Alex Fielding.

“When you don’t have power and you cant tell your loved ones your okay, I think that’s a critical lifeline,” said Fielding.

MORE: With nothing else to go on, loved ones of Lahaina’s missing hold on to their hope

A lifeline not only for residents but first responders, government agencies, the media are all relying on these signals.

Even the crews racing to restore power. They’ve been working 16-hour days to restore power to hundreds of customers in Olowalu and Launiupoko.

Longtime paddler Suzy Richter says she lost several canoes in the fire and is now staying in a hotel.

“I’ve been on the phone with the bank, been on the phone with the credit card, still trying to figure out the Venmo thing,” Richter said.

She’s also using the wi-fi to catch up on the presidents visit on Monday but she’d rather not see too much.

“I think the more I see the more I’m gonna grieve... There are so many things to do now to move forward,” she said.