Perched on the southern edge of New Zealand, a small picturesque city with a big digital vision is about to be wired with the fastest broadband speeds in the Southern Hemisphere.
You may never have heard of it, but Dunedin is the envy of New Zealand after being crowned the winner of Gigatown, an online and real world competition for communities to receive 1Gbps broadband* and two development funds to support entrepreneurs, innovators and social initiatives. The competition was run by Chorus, New Zealand’s largest telecommunications infrastructure company which is rolling out the nation’s world-leading Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB) program.
Gigatown was developed by Chorus to help educate and inspire New Zealanders about the possibilities and opportunities for a country connected with ultra-fast broadband. It attracted entries from no less than 50 towns and was something of a social media phenomenon with almost 6 million online conversations about Gigatown and the power of UFB during the 13-month long competition. Dunedin was one of five finalists – alongside Gisborne, Nelson, Timaru and Wanaka – which competed to develop a plan for their gigabit future.
Gigatown placed ultra-fast broadband firmly into the community consciousness and raised awareness of the social and economic benefits the New Zealand government’s investments in UFB and RBI could provide. It highlighted the very real human benefits enabled by the rollout of ultra-fast broadband.
Now having won Gigatown, Dunedin is very much focused on the future, placing its gigabit vision at the heart of a plan to be recognized as one of the world’s great small cities. Drawing inspiration from Chattanooga Gig, Dunedin has outlined a smart city framework that brings community together, and encourages innovation and enterprise. Its Gigatown plan identified key opportunities for smart infrastructure, engagement, accessibility and culture, health and medicine, digital inclusion, and a smart city hub, while creating a comprehensive community of engaged stakeholder groups.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull says Gigatown has awakened the city. “This has been a time for us to think about the possibilities that 1Gbps ultrafast broadband will open up for Dunedin,” Mayor Cull said. “Win or lose, the Gigatown competition has helped us focus on the fact that faster broadband is part of our future and, as a community, we need to be ready to make the best of that. Winning means we can bring the future forward much sooner.”
Bringing that future forward is where Alcatel-Lucent comes in, both as a significant technology and services partner with Chorus, and via the ng Connect Program, which has invested with Chorus in a development fund to support entrepreneurs and innovators taking new gigabit services to market in Dunedin. ng Connect will also work with Dunedin and other Gigatown finalists to foster innovation through collaboration and broadband vision.
While best known for its stately gold rush era buildings and as the home of New Zealand’s oldest university, Dunedin has gradually transformed and experienced the flourishing of niche industries such as engineering, software development, biotechnology and fashion. With Gigatown, it now has a new advantage to grow those and other sectors to become a true smart city of the world.
* Chorus will make a special 1Gbps UFB service available in Dunedin at entry level broadband prices.