Timaru running 5th for Gigatown

18:44, Jun 11 2014

Timaru is one step closer to gaining Gigatown status - and the wider community will benefit if successful.

Aoraki Development Business and Tourism (ADBT) will use $15,000 of its reserves to maintain the momentum already gained by Timaru, which is now placed fifth out of 50 other towns and cities.

Gigatown is a promotional competition led by fibre-optic provider Chorus. The town with the most support will receive broadband speeds of up to one gigabit per second - which is about 10 times faster than the recent ultra-fast broadband roll-out.

As of 5pm yesterday, Wanaka was leading the way with 1,741,622 points, followed by Nelson with 1,425,615. Timaru was holding fifth place with 1,095,848 points.

ADBT chief executive Wendy Smith said "when" Timaru wins Gigatown, the rollout will be limited to internet users within the town boundary.

However, the economic spin-off would ultimately benefit outlying communities, she said.


At yesterday's Timaru District Council policy and development committee meeting, Smith illustrated that spin-off with a video presentation.

Business leaders highlighted what the win could do for their company. A dairy farmer was among them, saying faster broadband could help the dairy industry become a "centre of excellence".

Smith yesterday recommended the council match ADBT's $15,000 from the Economic Development fund. Once a place was confirmed in the finals, ADBT would contribute a further $10,000, with the recommendation the TDC contribute $10,000 more and business support would be garnered for an additional $10,000.

Councillor Steve Earnshaw supported the concept, saying high speed internet would not just benefit businesses, but also help care for the district's growing elderly population remotely.

Councillor Tony Brien said it appeared to be a "little bit of a gamble". The committee moved the recommendation in support of the concept.

The Timaru Herald