Looking for Gigatown
One New Zealand town will become the best-connected in the Southern Hemisphere when it wins a competition Chorus has announced to create a "Gigatown" with 1 gigabit-per-second broadband, the company says.
Chorus is running the civic competition in order to encourage communities to explore the opportunities that will be created by ultrafast broadband (UFB).
All homes in the winning town are likely to be offered a fibre-optic broadband connection with a download speed of 1Gbps for the same price that they would pay for an "entry-level" 30 megabit-per-second connection under the UFB scheme. The speed is more than 100 times faster than the average speed obtained by homes today.
Chorus said the Gigatown's broadband infrastructure would be similar to that provided three years ago to 170,000 homes in Chattanooga, Tennessee, through a public-private partnership involving the town's electricity company.
Sheldon Grizzle, who heads a non-profit economic development agency in Chattanooga, said gigabit-fibre had helped reverse a population drift of young talented people away to the nearby cities of Nashville and Atlanta, and create 6700 net new jobs.
"Chattanooga is a beautiful place; people like to visit, but it has been a place where for a long time we have been losing our most talented young people to other communities around the world.
"For the first time in 100 years we have the opposite problem of more talent coming into the city than we know what to do with."
Businesses from around the United States had decided to use Chattanooga as a testbed for net-enabled applications they were developing in fields such as education, entertainment and healthcare, he said.
However, Grizzle said two-thirds of homes in Chattanooga had yet to switch their internet service to the gigabit-fibre network.
"The biggest barrier to people switching is their email address; they don't want to give up their AT&T or Comcast email address."
Any community in the 24 towns and cities where Chorus is laying UFB, including Auckland and Wellington, will be eligible to enter its competition, though spokesman Ian Bonnar said it would probably restrict the free upgrade to an area about the size of Dunedin.
Details of how the competition will be run have yet to be finalised, but Chorus expects to pick a winner early in 2015.
Christchurch, much of the central North Island and Whangarei will be ineligible because other companies are building the UFB network there.
- © Fairfax NZ News