Confessions of a Tee-shirt evangelist

Since its a friday I thought I’d go off on a slightly different tangent, the recent moves in our extremely nascent, emerging residential Gigabit market got me thinking about the power of evangelism (in the marketing rather than the spiritual sense) as a marketing tool.

If you’ve ever found yourself up against rivals or competitors who can outspend you 1000:1 or even 1,000,000:1 you need to find ways to punch far above you weight (a bit like TUANZ does) and one of the best ways of doing this is to turn your customers and supporters into real life walking evangelists.

And one of the best things to give your evangelists is a tee-shirt with a snappy slogan on it.

I learnt about this technique from Guy Kawasaki who was Apple’s chief evangelist, who wrote the original Macintosh marketing plan. Guy realised that his launch budget was less than IBM’s annual styro foam coffee cup budget so they got creative.

The original TV commercial is widely regarded as the best TVC of all time, even though it was designed to only play once (during the 1984 Superbowl) and a lot of effort when into cool tee shirts for developers.

Fast forward to the early 2000’s and it was great pleasure to be working with the team at CityLink, we launched CafeNET (early public WiFi) in 2002 with street theatre in Civic Square (plus David Isenberg) and a bright yellow tee shirt saying ‘love is in the air’.

In 2004 CityLink couldn’t afford to mount a stand at the 2nd National TUANZ Broadband Conference in Hastings but we wanted to make a point about getting ‘real’ broadband not just the rationed version that Telecom were promoting.

So we got a Tee Shirt printed that said “You need at least 10mb/s to be broadminded” on the front and “CityLink – we’re broadminded” on the back. I hitched a ride to Hastings and took 3 cartons of tee shirts (I kept 3 for myself), with about 5 confederates we started circulating in our cool tee shirts and we got our first requests.

We then started our guerrilla phase and gave anybody that made a statement we liked a tee shirt, often by yelling “that deserves a tee shirt” this went on all day.

Breakfast the second day saw about 100 tee shirts in the room with more people trying to get them. I knew we’d won when on the last day, the keynote speaker from Ericsson in Sweden took the stage in one of our shirts and started by saying ‘the guys in the tee shirts are right!”

The tee shirt got a gigabit upgrade when it was taken to NZNOG (the NZ Network Operators Group) where it became a collectors item.

I then went to the TUANZ Digital Summit in 2006 (I think?) with some tee shirts that said “I want FTMH NOW!” on the front and on the back it said “Fibre To My House” It worked pretty well as well, we got the then Minister David Cunliffe into one.

So I think it worked because here I am a decade later eagerly awaiting gigabit fibre at my house.

Next week I’ll tell you what I plan on doing with it.

Gigatown turns into a Giga challenge for Chorus

One more post before bedtime, now that I’m back in the temporary VDSL equipped TUANZ cave in #gigatownporirua.

I’ve had a flight back from Auckland, (cut off from my feed to the internets) to think about what Ultra Fast Fibre’s declaration of their central North Island patch as the ‘Giganet’ means for Chorus.

And what it means for us as users and how I think its the most exciting thing to happen in the UFB world since Northpower finished their build.

In military terms this has been a brilliant piece of asymmetric warfare, a judo throw that Vladimir Putin would be proud to call his own.

Chorus will now be compelled to re-evaluate the entire gigatown proposition because its just had a whole lot of the gloss removed:

1.   The winning gigatown no longer enjoys the advantage of the ‘Southern Hemispheres’ fastest internet.

2.   The 3 year stint as the gigatown is also meaningless as UFF have declared that its package will run until 2020 – which is the big bang year anyway in terms of UFB evolution

3.   The winning gigatown will have the cheapest wholesale, residential gigabit service but that may not translate into much of an advantage in what will be a much broader residential gigabit market.

4.   The winning gigatown will still enjoy the Alcatel Lucent innovation fund, but the economic development benefit is seriously diluted.

I think there will be quite a lot of angst out there in the gigatowns tomorrow (disclaimer I am part of the #gigatownporirua team) because the competition has required a lot of energy and commitment from largely volunteer teams (think Top Town meets social media). The competition and rivalry is fierce and intense, the creativity that has been unleashed is inspirational and overall it has got us all thinking about what the UFB can mean for our communities.

So what can Chorus do?

The options as I see them are:

1.   Box on like nothing’s happened

2.  Use the ‘Team Oracle USA’ like clauses in the gigatown T&C’s to pause and look for a reset

3.  Match UFF and declare everybody a ‘GIGATOWN’ (my preferred option)

I think Chorus owe it to all the towns who have played the game by their rules and who have sunk what I think must be millions of dollars worth of community time and energy into gigatown to show that they are serious about our giganation.

So whats in it for us as users, this is the stuff that rocks

1.   RSP’s now have the incentive to get really creative with UFB products, speed is no longer a limitation!

2.   The developer community can now start to build ‘gigabit grade’ products and services with a good sized local sandpit (even bigger if Chorus come to the party)

3.   UFB consumers will get world class connectivity

4.   The rest of the stack (backhaul and international) will get an increased incentive to open the pipes so we really will get genuine gigabit grade experiences

5.   There are going to be huge possibilities in education and health

6.   This will speed up the copper transition and force all the RSP’s to get serious about UFB

7.   The market for fast WiFi is going to go nuts!

8.   Aussies are going to be sooo jealous 

9.   The Government might feel so good about the giganet they’ll get behind other good ideas like Northpower’s rural fibre plans

10.  The belt of towns from New Plymouth to Tauranga is hugely important to all our current export industries and it is home to our mighty ‘Agritech’ sector (think Gallaghers etc)  – which I believe is our best shot for a global ICT niche we can own. So the Giganet is really, really important to our collective future.

I’ve been involved in the fibre dream in NZ since 1999, when I first got a CityLink connection in downtown Wellington, I helped get regional fibre extended across Nelson, Marlborough, Tasman with NMi and the Broadband Challenge.

But this development today has got me more excited as it moves us from a rationed future (just one gigatown) to one that is brim full of possibilities (a whole giganation?) because the UFB is now really going to be Ultra Fast.

I think I need a lie down now, I hope I don’t wake up tomorrow and find it was all a dream.



Chorus has launched a promotion that will give one town in New
Zealand gigabit speeds on the Ultra Fast Broadband network.

One gigabit per second is fast. OECD rankings suggest that only
four countries in the world offer national 1Gbit/s plans – Turkey, Slovenia,
Sweden and Japan (this was in 2011 so there may be more by now) and that most
top out at about half that speed.

We’re talking about 1000Mbit/s. Today I get 15Mbit/s
download so to call it a step change is something of an understatement. My
upload speed is barely 1Mbit/s.

We tend to get complacent about the fantastic advances
technology makes each year. A doubling of capacity, a tripling of speed, these
numbers become run of the mill and users are blasé about them. But a thousand
fold increase in my upload speed would be startling to put it mildly, so good
on Chorus for trying this out.

The economic potential of offering such a service is
astonishing. Think what having such a speed would do to the way we think about
remote working or having to live in the main centres. Think about what access
to the world at those kinds of speeds would mean for start-up software
developers and to our migration patterns. Software companies should be lining
up for our cheap housing and staff with no fear of us being too removed from
the world.

Movie studios would look more to New Zealand for filming opportunities
than they do today – getting the rushes sent back to LA or New York or further
afield to the UK or Germany is a major problem and it’s not the international
leg so much as getting the footage out of Wellington and up to the Southern
Cross Cable.

But I have a question. Given this capability is clearly
available today, why are we talking about an entry level product of 30Mbit/s
download speed? Why are we talking about an upload speed barely ten times what
I get today?

Why aren’t we talking about an entry level plan of 100/100
followed swiftly by 250/250 and 500/500? Why aren’t we offering 1000/1000 at

Speeds like these would help encourage people to move to
fibre in a way that talking about 30/10 plans simply won’t.

The entry level price point is on par with copper and the
entry level speed is on par with copper so why on earth would I shift over?

No, the real lesson from Gigatown is that we should all have
that kind of capability and we should all have it sooner rather than later.
Only then will we see all those nice things in the video come to fruition.
Economic development, e-health initiatives, educational opportunities, rural
regeneration, population increase, regional development.

Suddenly, the entry level product is the barrier to uptake,
not the enabler. It’s time we revisited the UFB’s promise if we’re ever to
achieve the future depicted in the Gigatown promotion.