Hawaii telecommunications provider warns of closure, layoffs

HONOLULU (AP) — A struggling Hawaii telecommunications provider has warned the state it could be forced to close and lay off its workforce.
Sandwich Isles Communications Inc., which is facing huge federal fines, wrote a letter to the state that said it could have closed as early as Sunday and could lay off its 62 employees, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported .
The company provides telecommunications services to about 3,600 customers on Hawaiian homelands across the state.
Interim CEO Breanne Kahalewai said the company has entered into a letter of intent to sell the company and is currently negotiating a definitive purchase agreement.
The proposed sale would require the new owner to retain the current employees, but Kahalewai said that the company was notifying the state of a possible closure “out of an abundance of caution.”
William Aila, deputy director of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, said homesteaders across the state report that service is still being provided.
The department is working on “possible mitigation” that could include a sale of the company or transfer of assets, Aila said. He declined to disclose any details but said the department would have to consent to any sale of the company.
A spokesman for the Federal Communications Commission said that a carrier such as Sandwich Isles “must have FCC permission before discontinuing service and none such request has been received. In addition, there are a number of pending petitions related to this company still before the commission.”