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One Lucky NZ Town to get Fastest Broadband in Southern Hemisphere

One Lucky NZ Town to get Fastest Broadband in Southern Hemisphere

We heard about this a little while ago, but today it’s public – one lucky town in NZ will be getting Gigabit Fibre courtesy of Chorus. This is ten times normal Ultra-Fast Broadband (UFB) speeds.

Chorus will use a national competition to determine which town will be the first in the southern hemisphere to receive one-gigabit per second broadband speeds – up to 100 times faster than many other towns and cities globally.

Further details from the Press release:

‘Welcome to Gigatown’ will be a year-long competition led by ultra-fast broadband (UFB) infrastructure company Chorus. The competition aims to spark innovation and mobilise the potential of UFB to transform local economies and services to drive better outcomes for New Zealand communities.

Chorus Head of Marketing and Sales, Victoria Crone says the one-gigabit fibre broadband will be deployed to the New Zealand town that shows New Zealand it has the most desire to be Gigatown.

“Over the course of a year we’re going to ask New Zealand communities to get creative, get online and tell New Zealand why their town should receive this gigabit connection,” says Crone.

“Over the next couple of months we will work with local communities and councils, as well as the rest of the telecommunications industry, to make sure we deliver a great competition that gives the widest possible range of communities the chance to be New Zealand’s Gigatown.”

All communities covered by Chorus’ UFB build plans will be eligible to enter the competition.  Welcome to Gigatown is expected to launch on Labour Day 2013, with the winning town announced in early 2015.

Crone says that Welcome to Gigatown aims to encourage New Zealanders to start thinking about UFB as a huge opportunity to transform our country’s economy and also deliver great social outcomes.

Two international UFB experts are in New Zealand to support the announcement of Welcome to Gigatown and provide commentary on the potential of New Zealand’s unique fibre model.

According to Sheldon Grizzle, an innovation lead at CO.LAB in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the power of Gigabit fibre to transform a town’s economy has been clearly demonstrated as Chattanooga transformed from the most polluted city in the USA to one of its most innovative digital economies.

“The Chattanooga story can happen in New Zealand because it is one of the few countries around the world that is on track to provide fibre connectivity to the majority of its country’s homes, schools and businesses,” says Grizzle.

“It is absolutely possible that the Gigatown project will enable one New Zealand town to transform itself into a leading digital innovation hub for New Zealand and beyond,” he says.

Joining Grizzle in New Zealand is Benoit Felten, an international fibre specialist and founder of the French research and consultancy firm, Diffraction Analysis.

Felten has an incredible breadth and depth of expertise on fibre, from the technology through to industry dynamics, propositions, business models and applications.

FAQs – Welcome to Gigatown

What towns are eligible to take part?

Over the next couple of months we will be working with a range of stakeholders, including Regional Service Providers (RSPs) and local councils, to best define how we set the boundaries for the competition to make sure we provide the best opportunities for communities to get involved.  The winning community will be a town that is covered by Chorus’ Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) fibre build.

How will the winning town be decided?

Over the next couple of months we will be working with stakeholders and competition partners to best define a process that will ensure an even playing field for participating towns. We expect that measuring user-generated social media content and online community engagement will play a role in determining the winner. We expect that larger cities such as Auckland and Wellington will be divided into smaller ‘towns’ within towns.

What does the winning town get?

The winning town will get the chance to become the first in the southern hemisphere to access a 1Gbps internet connection. Chorus will work through pricing in detail with the RSPs and other stakeholders, but our current thinking is that we will provide a sponsored residential product at the same price as the entry level fibre product.  In the vast majority of cases there is minimal cost to consumers to get a fibre to the premise connection installed, so ultimately the town can expect a 1Gbps connection for roughly the same price as their current internet package.

What kind of benefits can the winning community expect to experience from a 1Gbps connection?

A 1Gbps connection will radically improve the speed and capacity of broadband internet networks leading to increased efficiency, convenience and productivity.  Numerous studies show that a strong link exists between broadband growth and economic and social development. The winning town will be well positioned to become a leading digital innovation hub for New Zealand.

How do you power a town with 1 Gbps internet?

New Zealand’s high speed UFB plans are based on GPON technology which is capable of delivering downlink speeds of up to 1gpbs. The Chorus UFB network uses the same GPON technology as many other UFB operators around the world, including EPB in Chattanooga, which currently offers end users internet plans of up to 1 Gbps.

What happened in Chattanooga?

Chattanooga is a town in Tennessee, USA that credits gigabit technology with one of the major contributors to the transformation of its economy. Previously shamed as one of the most polluted and unliveable cities in America, Chattanooga was one of the first cities in the world to roll out a fibre to the premise (FTTP) network offering gigabit connection speeds to homes and businesses. This has been credited with playing a role in attracting a swell of economic investment into Chattanooga, including the expansion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant and the establishment of facilities. Chattanooga has also become a digital innovation centre that is driving development of next generation fibre applications. 

Chattanooga’s fibre optic network has been emulated by a handful of other cities in the US and it is studied internationally as a model of how to build the smart cities of the future.

Who is Sheldon Grizzle?

Sheldon Grizzle is the founder of The Company Lab, a hub for digital entrepreneurs in Chattanooga, TN. He is also a co-founder of GIGTANK, Blank Slate Ventures, and Chattanooga Football Club. Sheldon is extremely passionate about continuing to create a community that applies entrepreneurial principles to all aspects of business and civic life. He has written for the Wall Street Journal as a “Startup Guru” and has been featured in media outlets including CBS News, PBS News Hour, CNBC, Forbes, FastCompany, PandoDaily, TechCrunch, GOOD, GigaOm and Inc. Sheldon is an active investor in the Southeastern U.S. startup scene and he currently serves on the boards of QuickCue, SupplyHog, Chattanooga Football Club and Chattanooga Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Why is industry collaboration and innovation so essential for ensuring the success of UFB in New Zealand?

A study by Alcatel-Lucent’s research and innovation engine, BellLabs, calculates that the economic benefits UFB and high-speed applications can bring to New   Zealand will amount to $32.8 billion over 20 years. However, this development is dependent on innovation, ubiquity and momentum. ‘Welcome to Gigatown’ will not only support a New Zealand town to fast-track its fibre future, it will provide insight as to how we can address all of these conditions.  One of the key goals of the competition is to stimulate new innovation and business models through encouraging collaboration between NZ companies. The challenge is to get towns thinking about what they are going to do to embrace fibre, how they will build new local businesses and services, and make their towns attractive places to live, invest in and work.

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