Bridge Street Collective gets super speed internet

Alden Williams / Fairfax NZ

The Bridge Street Collective has won two years of super fast internet to help achieve its vision of creating a collaborative tech hub in the city.

The collective, established in 2011 as a co-working space for digital, technology and design entrepreneurs amongst others, will use the gigafibre connection to stimulate growth while it expands into the empty space next door and turns into a not-for-profit charitable trust, founder Galen King said. 

"Our focus is on business growth and economic development, not just on people surfing the internet.

"We're trying to inspire people to develop businesses and for Nelson a big thing I've been trying to do over the last nine months is encouraging tech companies."

The collective and Victory Mesh Project have each won a free two year gigafibre plan provided by Chorus through a competition run by Nelson Digital Futures Society, the group behind the city's Gigatown campaign. Gigafibre provides an internet connection up to 80 times faster than standard ADSL that can download a movie in a second.

King said the most exciting thing about getting the connection was being able to show Nelson as an exciting place with opportunities, and a good place to do business.

"It gets momentum amongst our members and the wider community and it gives us exposure," King said.

"As soon as it's turned on we'll roll it out to the cafe so the public wifi will be gigabit speed, apart from the council funded wifi in Dunedin it's got to be one of the fastest free wifi connections in the country."

He said the collective was developing the vacant lot next door as a free public outdoor space that would have green spaces, outside seating, pop-up shops, and some offices would be extended out into shipping containers, and that would all be covered by the wifi.

The collective hosts regular meetups, runs free desk Fridays and exhibitions, and plans to expand its community offerings.

"If we can have the cafe and public spaces outside overflowing with people creating stuff online and sychronizing or whatever, doing their business online, that's the biggest implication and I'm really excited about that," King said.

The Victory Mesh Project proposed to establish a business that designs, implements and operates a wifi mesh network in the Victory community through a program teaching youths entrepreneurial skills.

Nelson Digital Futures Society chair Simon Gutschlag said the "Grab a Gig" competition went well and he hoped it was the start of a long-term partnership with Chorus.

"Nelson Digital Futures Society is going to follow these projects and help them be as successful as possible," he said.

"Then, together we want to share the lessons they've learned with other community organisations and businesses who can benefit."