Welcome to #GigatownNapier!
The winning city / town of will receive:
“The fastest internet in the Southern hemisphere – Chorus will make a special one gigabit per second (1Gbps) wholesale service available in the winning Gigatown at a special price and a Gigatown development fund – a $200,000 fund provided by Chorus and Alcatel Lucent’s Connect will support entrepreneurs and innovators taking new services over Gigabit fibre to market for Gigatown.”
I’m all for Napier becoming the first city in the southern hemisphere to have gigabit internet speeds. I can see just how much of a benefit our city and region could gain from such a digital asset. At the very least it is a way to engage, employ and empower Hawke’s Bay’s technologically-savvy youth and maybe even keep some of them from leaving the region in droves as they currently do.
At the most, it can put us at the forefront of the digital world and create massive financial, employment and social gains for our region. That’s why I’ve become a “#GigatownNapier ambassador.”
HOW the competition is currently structured leaves me more than a little cold, though.
The first stage of the competition is all about getting as many people to “hashtag” (“#Gigatown(insert location here)”) your town’s Gigatown handle on as many forms of media as inhumanely possible.
This can, of course, backfire with lots of people getting tired of seeing or using the Gigatown hashtag very quickly – social media is, after all, a very fast moving, trend setting (and following), constantly changing and fickle.
It all seems a little “Spam-like” to me (although there are rules and guidelines to help avoid this).
Currently leading the “#Hashtag Section” is Wanaka – where a simple ham sandwich from a lake-front cafe can set you back a whopping $10 (this was what sticks in my mind from the last time I was there), with almost 70,000 points. Oamaru, the “Steampunk” capital of New Zealand second (I’m pretty sure Steampunk technology isn’t internet compatible, though) is second, 37,000 points behind.
Napier is 14th
There are, apparently, conversion factors to be taken into consideration here – towns with smaller populations (like Wanaka and Oamaru, for example) appear to get more points per capita / hashtag, than bigger population centres. But this will start to even out as the competition proceeds, so we’re told.
Under this basis, let’s all just hope the likes of Otira don’t get too involved, or they’ll smoke the lot of us!
All the hashtag noise has also been a bit of a distraction from recent problems Chorus has been having with the government and the Commerce Commission over “unbundling” and the rolling out of New Zealand’s Ultra-Fast Broadband (“UFB”) network.
It has been interesting to note, too, that while the promise of gigabit internet speeds has been raising a lot of interest, the usage and uptake of “the next big tech thing” – Ultra-Fast Broadband in New Zealand has been a pretty slow. Despite the government and providers strongly promoting the use of UFB and installing the infrastructure for it around large portions of metropolitan New Zealand over the past few years, it has been gaining momentum only recently.
Rather than making the most noise, I’m all for the winning town being the one with the most substance.
Napier deserves an opportunity like this.
We have the port, airport and roads facilitating the transit of goods – export being our biggest earner and the servile tourism industry being a big portion of the region’s economy, but a poor earner for those involved.
Inject gigabit internet technology into Hawke’s Bay and I think we could foreseeably overtake at least one of those sectors. In doing so we would also massively increase the number of skilled workers, increase the wages, in doing so local boost consumer spending and launch the region’s economy into the stratosphere.
Regardless of what happens in the competition, whether Napier becomes #GigatownNapier or not, I still think this is a great opportunity for Napier and Hawke’s Bay.
I went along to the first that Napier “Gigatown Education Seminar” hosted by Ryan Jennings and I was impressed by the passion and drive I saw and heard from everyone at the event to see this sort of thing happen for Napier.
For too long Napier has been chained to the past. Over recent years I have felt we are just out of reach of that one thing that will get Hawke’s Bay out of its current economic doldrums. This is a great opportunity to thrust ourselves through the present and into the future.
Be it with Gigabit internet speeds, or with Ultra-Fast Broadband, this is a great step in the right direction and an opportunity that cannot be wasted!