Gigatown team remain hopeful

CHRIS HYDE
Last updated 12:00 03/01/2014

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Turning Palmerston North into the internet capital of the southern hemisphere remains possible, and Gigatown Palmerston North campaigners say they have plenty up their sleeve to encourage the city to get behind them.

Palmerston North is currently sitting just behind Porirua in fourth place in internet company Chorus's social media promotion to give one town or city in New Zealand complete access to a 1 gigabit-per-second internet connection.

The top five in the country at the end of September will be considered for the prize, an internet speed that no other town in the southern hemisphere has.

The promotion, which began in October, has been dogged by doubts about Chorus's ability to follow through with the prize.

The company's share price has plummeted since the Government admitted it did not have the numbers in Parliament to override a Commerce Commission-ordered $10.54 cut in the price the company will be allowed to charge for access to its copper network from December this year.

Chorus officials subsequently said they were looking at ways to cut costs and there were "no sacred cows" in the company.

Gigatown Palmerston North spokesman Liam Rutherford said they could not afford to think about what Chorus were doing and would push on in 2014 with fresh ideas to encourage greater participation in the campaign.

Some towns had employed staff to boost their chances but without council or business funding the Palmerston North campaigners were organising everything, he said.

That includes bumper stickers, continued lobbying of the business and education sector, and creating events that would draw a crowd to The Square.

"We are still confident that we can finish in the top five, it's going to depend a lot on the sorts of competitions and curveballs Chorus throw at us throughout the year, though.

"We're under no illusions that we have a way to go, there's still a lot of people out there we need to convince that this internet thing is not a fad."

To win would be incredible for the city, but what would be achieved through attempting to win over the next nine months would be just as important, Mr Rutherford said.

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- Manawatu Standard

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