Going all out for gigatown

MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD
Last updated 05:00 27/03/2014
timaru gigatown hydro hashtag damon odey allan booth
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ
HIGH HASHTAG: Timaru Mayor Damon Odey, left, and owner of the Hydro Grand, Allan Booth, set up a giant hashtag on the Hydro in support of the Chorus Gigatown competition.

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Timaru Mayor Damon Odey has put his official mark on the town's campaign for super-fast broadband.

A giant green hashtag, the unofficial logo for Timaru's "gigatown" campaign was erected on the Hydro Grand Hotel yesterday.

"Gigatown", a promotion led by fibre-optic provider Chorus, pits towns against one another for the chance of getting broadband speeds up to one gigabit per second.

This is about 10 times faster than offered in the ultra-fast broadband rollout.

Mr Odey said the hashtag would remain on the Hydro Grand building for the campaign, while the Timaru District Council had joined forces with Aoraki Business Tourism and Development (ABDT) to form an official working party.

"It's an evolving competition. We want to win it, but even if we don't, the potential benefits for education are huge," he said. "The fibre's going to be rolled out in the district over the next few years. It's not just about downloading faster movies at home, but also technology opportunities for schools and hospitals."

Mr Odey said ADBT had asked local IT specialist Angus Westgarth, and Aoraki Polytechnic head of hospitality Ian Bamber to help promote the campaign.

"They'll be going around schools and businesses, and encouraging people to help out," Mr Odey said.

"But there is already a strong core of about 100 or so social-media savvy people who've been really active. It's been great free publicity for the town."

ADBT has set aside about $30,000 towards various initiatives for the gigatown campaign.

Mr Odey said the council would also discuss ways it could support the campaign, either through its economic development fund, or providing staff assistance.

The current leading town is Wanaka, while Timaru is in fifth place. The overall winner will be decided on September 14.

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- The Timaru Herald

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