700,000 dollars are attributed to Dunedin for developping ultra-fast broadband (UFB) internet, with the help of the telecom company Chorus. This closes a one-year long campaign of lobbying and promoting fibre internet towards New Zealanders.
Finally, it’s a big town. On the 26th of November, Dunedin, the most populated city over 4 other finalists, won the Gigatown competition.
Chorus’ correction factor for smaller competitors apparently didn’t make a difference, as Timaru and the even less-crowded Wanaka finished off the podium.
Looking at the scoreboard, it seems that the final race opposed mostly Gisborne and Dunedin. The South island city collected globally more points on social networks (especially people using the hashtag #Gigatowndun on Twitter) and supporters. Dunedin also prevailed over Gisborne during the final vote, in which people had to choose their favorite Gigatown plan. In this phase, each competitor had to write a roadmap explaining how a Gigabyte-per-second (Gbps) Internet connexion would benefit to its business and inhabitants.
Dunedin, on its side, insisted on how young and dynamic is its population – it’s indeed one of the most student cities over New Zealand – and on the numerous companies installed here, working in the IT sector.
What now ?
Chorus says the 1 Gbps services will be up and running by the end of February 2015. It means, people living in Dunedin and an area covered by UFB, will have access to this tremendous connexion speed, at the price of UFB entry level. Internet Service Providers (ISP) offers should be around 80 and 100 $ per month.
This is still a fair amount of money, and residentials might not find an interest in investing straight away. Indeed, Gbps Internet is due to benefit to community buildings like schools, universities, libraries or hospitals, prior to private homes.
The second question is how much of the UFB share will be picked up by small business, the same ones put forward in Dunedin’s Gigatown plan ? It’s not really a question for big companies. But whether start-ups, who need high-speed Internet, often not for their staff, but for services, will follow remains to be seen.