Chorus announces Gigatown finalists, adds $500K fund to prize — but so far only one ISP signed on

Chorus has announced the five towns that have made the second round of its Gigatown competition, which began in October last year.

They are Dunedin, Gisborne, Nelson, Timaru and Wanaka.

Chorus also added a $500,000 community project fund to the prize for the eventual winning town.

The prize line up already includes low-cost (yet to be specified) 1 gigabit UFB fibre available to residential broadband customers in the winning town, plus a $200,000 development fund.

As with any UFB connection, Chorus won't supply the 1 gigabit connection directly. It needs retail ISPs to sign-up to support Gigatown.

So far one has signed on: CallPlus subsidiary Orcon. CallPlus holds around 13% market share in total, and its Orcon sub-brand around 5%.

There was controversy yesterday after it was revealed Porirua had spent around $100,000 on the competition, including flags, a zombie game and a video of the mayor rapping.

The year long competition, which involved towns competing to get the most mentions of #gigatown on social media, has been criticised for clogging Twitter and Facebook with spam. There have been disagreements over revisions to the Gigatown score card following examinations of alleged spam.

The Telecommunications Users Association has questioned if ISPs will be willing to bear the (as yet undetailed) costs of delivering the gigabit prize.

NBR has pointed out that national standards for UFB plans are now being readied by the Telecommunications Carriers Forum, clearing the way for every town to be a Gigatown.

Commentator Ben Gracewood has slammed the competition, saying it's akin to making towns compete for water or electricity when those services were first introduced.

Others have questioned by a town or city would need gigabit/sec speed for every resident (1 gigabit/s bandwidth is around 30 times the speed of the cheapest UFB fibre plans today).

The low cost 1 gigabit service will not be open to businesses in the winning Gigatown.

RAW DATA: Chorus statement: Gigatown finalists and first Gigatown retail broadband provider announced

Chorus has today announced the five towns that have gone through to the final round of the Gigatown competition. Dunedin, Gisborne, Nelson, Timaru and Wanaka have all won places in the final and will go on to compete for the chance to become New Zealand’s first Gigatown.

Chorus can also confirm that Orcon has signed up to be the first retail broadband provider to support Gigatown and will be developing exciting new services for customers over the Chorus fibre network in Gigatown in 2015.

Chorus joint acting General Manager of Marketing and Sales, Mike Lott, says, “The winning town will be ideally placed to become a leading digital innovation hub for New Zealand. With Orcon on board to deliver services in the winning town over our fibre network, we’re looking forward to seeing the infinite possibilities available to Gigatown residents and businesses alike.

“Throughout the competition so far, we’ve seen towns truly inspired by what a country connected with ultra-fast broadband can achieve. We thank all of the towns who have competed in the first round, and look forward to seeing what the finalists will create over the next 11 weeks.”

Orcon General Manager, Mike Shirley, says, “Orcon is excited to be part of Chorus’ Gigatown initiative. It’s great for Kiwis, and it’s great for us, as we can continue to demonstrate our fibre leadership in the New Zealand market.”  

The final round of the Gigatown competition kicks off today and towns are now competing to win points across five different challenges, one of which includes developing a plan for gig success, where they can demonstrate how they will best leverage access to gigabit fibre.

The plans for gig success will be judged by a panel of influential New Zealanders, with the New Zealand public also called on to cast their vote for their favourite plan, before the winner is announced on 26 November.  The judging panel will be announced at the end of September.

To become Gigatown, finalists will also need to show New Zealand just how much they want to win by demonstrating strong community engagement, through having the loudest voice on social media, and the largest number of supporters.

As part of the competition, Chorus is taking representatives from the five finalist towns to Chattanooga in Tennessee, U.S. so they can see how a community can be transformed by world leading connectivity with gigabit services.

The town that wins Gigatown will receive access to a 1 Gigabit per second (1Gbps) internet connection at entry level wholesale broadband prices for three years, along with two different funds;

·         A Gigatown development fund - a $200,000 fund provided by Chorus and Alcatel Lucent’s ng Connect will support entrepreneurs and innovators taking new services to market over the gigabit fibre connection in Gigatown.

·         A Gigatown community fund – this is a $500,000 fund provided by Chorus over a three-year period for organisations in the winning Gigatown that want to kick start community related developments that showcase how gigabit infrastructure and UFB can be activated for social good.

Visit for more information on the Gigatown competition and the finalist towns.

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