Molokai is an island. Molokai is a remote and small island. That means if you can't get to stuff or stuff can't come to you in an affordable way; you are making a drastic choice of life. So drastic that a cave would be different only in the viewpoints. Fortunately, Amazon, FedEx, and UPS deliver in/out of the island. And with Amazon Prime, you don't feel any different from the mainland. At least for the most common cases. However, just like on the mainland, without voice/data connectivity you feel trapped even in a metropolis.
We spent two weeks on the island, sampling different places, testing the different levels of services, and ultimately even exploring options with Satellite connectivity.
We use T-Mobile as a wireless provider and our experience was spotty with all puns intended! There were places where you would have never guessed the signal would have been available and others that you would be wondering of WHY NOT?! As you would move the phone around in the air like the 90s just happened.
Where we found 5G I was really impressed by the quality of the audio. No hiccups or "what did you say" or "I lost you for a second". Everything worked fine while driving. We did find that a slight change, of course, would immediately affect the signal quality.
Data signal would be reliable to text messaging, of all kinds. Whatsup and all the other suspects would work as you are accustomed to in good conditions. More than often Apple Messages would need a retry push and images would be definitely ultra-challenged in going through.
You’ll find the best connections in Kaunakakai and on Maunaloa Highway (460) as far as mile 15. You’ll get no bars beyond Mile 2 east or anywhere beyond mile 15 west.
We tested a DSL basic package by Spectrum in a condominium at Molokai Shore. And standing by the router on the best day you could only do text messaging. It was awful. So much that often using the one bar of T-Mobile was a better investment in swearing and asking random questions to the dead seashell placed by the router.
Spectrum is the equivalent of Frontier/Zipfly and some locations do have fiber optics. I did not find their reports of connectivity misleading. I tested every day multiple times during the day. Their basic package is okay for doing all the normal browsing and streaming but not under heavy pressure. Like, working remotely. I found the latency to have several hit and run moments. It would gracefully recover the longer pings but nothing as smooth as the type of fiber that we are accustomed to experience on the mainland.
However, they offer a bigger package (~$70) that totally solves that problem. The holy grail of all Internet connectivity for rural locations is coming in 2021 (they just started serving) is SpaceX / Starlink. As I documented we're on the list to get such connectivity.
We have heard reports that Verizon is significantly better (voice) in terms of coverage but I was unable to verify that because during holiday time (December) I couldn't get a SIM card on time for my testing.
Our plans are to start with Spectrum, attach a solar panel to a battery for keeping the router alive in case of power loss, and take it from there. In that way, laptops and phones will keep streaming as need. I am just thinking ahead of unexpected events. However, from reports and direct testing during December 2020 we did not run into any issue, quite the opposite we were consistently impressed by the overall performance.
I will keep the post up to date as we experience the service(s) for a longer time. In meanwhile, mahalo!