Dunedin rises in Gigatown

Dunedin has jumped up the leaderboard in the Gigatown competition.

Dunedin moved from 11th to second place, behind Wanaka, on Thursday following a video competition on Instagram which was not subject to the competition's usual population-adjusted points allocation.

More than 950 5- to 15-second Dunedin videos were posted online in the competition, more than half of them by two people involved in running the Gigatown Dunedin campaign, campaign organiser Josh Jenkins, of the Dunedin Digital Office, said.

Wanaka, Dunedin and Queenstown now lead the race to become the first southern hemisphere town with full access to one gigabit per second (1Gbs) internet connection speeds. Oamaru is placed seventh.

Proponents have said a 1Gbs network, allowing data to be moved more efficiently all over the world, would make Dunedin an attractive proposition for investors interested in health technologies, education and learning, niche manufacturing and design technologies.

It would give start-ups, software companies and developers a reason to choose Dunedin.

Mr Jenkins said people in Dunedin could already connect into the 1Gbs infrastructure, but winning would make it cheaper for that town, putting it about three years ahead of others in the southern hemisphere in terms of available internet connection speeds.

Connecting to a 1Gbs internet service presently cost about $2000 in Dunedin, but Chorus had him it expected people in the winning town would connect to the 1Gbs network via the yet-to-be-chosen internet service provider for between $70 and $100 per month, Mr Jenkins said.

The winning town would also get a $200,000 development fund to support entrepreneurs and innovators taking new services over Gigabit fibre to market.

Mr Jenkins said towns received points for showing their support for Gigatown online through social media, although the point system had been frustrating.

Dunedin needed more people to comment about Gigatown than smaller towns did to get the same points, so had to work a lot harder at reaching people.

''Getting over the apathy of Dunedin has also been a bit of a challenge.''

Ratepayers are contributing $61,500 towards Mr Jenkins' salary to run Dunedin's Gigatown campaign.

City councillors recently questioned the contribution, asking whether it might have been better spent on other things, such as helping connect some businesses to the 1Gbs network instead.

Digital Office general manager Stuart Dillon-Roberts said it was believed the benefit of having 1Gbs to everyone was greater. The office was also using the campaign as a way of educating people about broadband.

''If we get businesses thinking about getting more connected then it's every penny well spent.''

Deputy mayor Chris Staynes said the $61,500 commitment was a decision of previous council chief executive Paul Orders ''in his belief [1Gbs] would be a game-changer for Dunedin''.

The funding was allocated from the Dunedin Economic Development Strategy projects budget.

The competition runs until September, after which the top five towns will battle it out.

•  Competition details, including voting instructions,can be viewed here

- debbie.porteous@odt.co.nz

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