Get on board the broadband wagon

21:08, Jan 22 2014

Those behind Nelson's bid to make it the town with the fastest internet in the southern hemisphere will be making a big push this weekend to get more support.

Gigatown Nelson enthusiasts will have stands at the Saturday market and outside Nelson New World on Friday and Saturday, to get people to sign up to the contest.

The Gigatown competition is run by the telecommunications company Chorus. Chorus is rolling out ultra-fast broad band around New Zealand. The town crowned with Gigatown status will be the first to win access to an internet connection of one gigabit a second.

This is about 80 times faster than our current connection; a feature length movie could be downloaded in seconds. Data and large files could be painlessly shared. There would be no lag on viewing online video material such as YouTube.

Chorus is also offering $200,000 to help the winning town take advantage of its super-fast internet service in new ways.

Nelson is currently 13th in the race, behind Blenheim and Greymouth.


A Gigatown Nelson spokeswoman Kathryn Koopmanschap says Nelson really needs to be in the top five towns when the competition enters its final stage in September.

Wanaka is currently winning the competition by a big margin and Nelson really needs to win bonus points, like the ones on offer this weekend, if it is to seriously compete.

The town that gets the most points from new people signing up to the competition could win 75,000 points this weekend, which would boost Nelson's ranking. To take advantage of this it needs to sign up about 3500 extra people this weekend.

"It's big but it's do-able."

Kathryn says the competition is about connecting Nelson and getting people to use the hashtag #gigatown Nelson in their online interactions.

To win Nelsonians really need to be behind the competition.

Points are gained in the competition by getting people to sign up to their town via the gigatown website: Points are also given for people that use the hashtag #gigatownnsn in their tweets and who use the hashtag on the gigatown Nelson facebook page.

Kathryn says the benefits to Nelson winning the competition would be huge.

While Nelson is a popular lifestyle destination and has a lot of primary industries it is held back by its geographical isolation, its loss of young people and lack of high value employment opportunities.

"High speed internet would bring Nelson closer to Auckland, Wellington and the world."

Kathryn says faster internet would help Nelson retain its young people by enabling better educational, employment and entertainment options.

It would also allow more business start-ups, contact centres, service and information technology businesses to base themselves in Nelson.

Chattanooga, Tennessee won a similar United States competition and it attracted businesses like Amazon to base a contact centre.

Based on the experience in the US it could be three to five years before Nelson got the promised ultra-fast broadband, if it did not win the competition.

A small group of people, including IT specialists, educators, marketers and entrepreneurs were driving the Gigatown Nelson competition and volunteering their time to it. Nelson City Council is supporting the project.

"There is plenty of chance for Nelson to increase our ranking - the secret is simply increasing the number of people who engage with this competition to at least 1000 and preferably 10,000.'