Hawaii to state employees: No, you can't stream Netflix

Responding to a state Office of Information Management and Technology report that public employees were spending between 100 and 300 hours streaming online video from services like Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Hulu, Hawaii is blocking state workers' access to the streaming services while on the job.

Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) YouTube service has not been blocked as the state uses it to upload its own videos for training, education and public relations purposes.

An OIMT study conducted between July 28 and Aug. 4 found that state employees streamed approximately 274 gigabytes of Netflix video alone during the period.

For Hawaii, the issue is not just about employees watching primarily entertainment-focused services during their working hours. Streaming video also takes up bandwidth.

"In order to preserve sufficient online access for state business, we will be immediately blocking video streaming services," Todd Nacapuy, chief information officer with the Hawaii OIMT, said in a memo distributed to department heads as well as legislative leaders. Nacapuy was appointed CIO on April 8.

The OIMT is in the midst of a 12-year overhaul of the state's 40-year-old IT systems.

Bandwidth is a bigger and costlier issue for the Hawaiian Islands than it is for the U.S. mainland. The islands' connection to the rest of the world takes place primarily through nine active submarine cables.

Although many of the islands' residents are connected to broadband, 25 Mbps is pretty much the limit of broadband speed in the state. Hawaiian Telcom launched a 1 Gbps service in June -- the only provider in the state to offer the service to residents so far.

The state legislature recently identified broadband as a critical area amid a push to attract more technology and innovation companies -- and related jobs -- to the islands, with the governor approving $30 million toward the initiative. "For Hawaii, slow download speeds (bandwidth deficiency) has been identified as one of the barriers we need to overcome to accelerate the growth of technology and innovation companies," said Cindy McMillan, spokeperson for Governor David Ige, in a Government Technology article.

In the meantime, though, the state's new CIO is taking steps to prevent state employees from using its network's existing capacity for streaming that isn't directly related to their jobs. Employees will not be disciplined for having watched Netflix and Hulu on the job, state officials told WFSB.

For more:
- see this WFSB article
- see this Broadband Hawaii report
- see this Government Technology article
- see this Pacific Business News article

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