Gigatown battle heats up

05:17, Jun 08 2014

A battle in the Chorus Gigatown competition has emerged, with Queenstown and Wanaka apparently at odds.

The winner of the Gigatown competition, held by Chorus, will be the first town in the Southern hemisphere to access a one gigabit per second internet connection and would receive a $200,000 development fund.

Wanaka leads the competition and Queenstown is in fourth position. The top five teams will have their points returned to zero in September to battle it out for the top spot.

The Wanaka team has asked the council for a $20,000 boost to their campaign as well as seeking a $70,000 increase in its ultra fast broadband fund to allow access to a wider area of the Wanaka CBD.

Queenstown's ultra fast broadband was paid for under a Government initiative.

Queenstown Gigatown team member AJ Mason told a council hearing committee in Queenstown this week that a win for Queenstown would directly benefit up to 15,000 residents and businesses, whereas a win in Wanaka would be to the private benefit of a few dozen CBD landlords, he said.


"I strongly urge council to consider on a contingent basis, subject to one of our two towns winning the competition, establishing an innovation growth fund for the district within this year's annual plan."

He believed the council should set aside $250,000 which could be used to privately fund to install ultra fast broadband to the Wanaka CBD.

"Assuming, of course, those stakeholders are able to make the case that this would be the best innovation project upon which to spend $250,000 for [the] greatest economic advantage to [the] district, the best possible return on investment for the fund, and the greatest possible public benefit," he said.

Gigatown Wanaka supporter and Wanaka Chamber of Commerce chairman Alistair King attended the hearing to pitch a bid for the council to give $20,000 to boost Wanaka's campaign.

He said Wanaka's Gigatown bid had been "rubbished".

"We don't want to get into a slugging match. We just want to prove Wanaka is better by winning," he said.

On Monday Mason said he did not intend his remarks to be derogatory.

"What Wanaka's doing is fantastic. I love the fact we are both looking at being in the final," he said.

"Obviously I do support Queenstown ... It's organically ready for Gigatown," he said.

This story has been edited pending further information.

The Southland Times