Living in rural Wairarapa, I depend on the internet.
I'm also a great supporter of the Gigatown Masterton (#gigatownMTN) competition. A fantastic initiative likely to put the Wairarapa on the economic map in so many ways.
But, I am fighting a different battle over internet speeds.
Before moving to rural Wairarapa, I checked out the internet connection speed.
My lovely ISP, Actrix, told me the line looked as if it could manage 7 Megabits per second (Mbps). Allowing for lots of users downloading stuff, weather and other rural hazards, I thought that might average out at a download speed of about 3-4Mbps. I could live with that.
It didn't. The reality is nearer 0.5Mbps. Often the connection is so slow the speed test won't start.
The connection drops repeatedly. Over the course of a day this is an incredible productivity waste as emails have to be re-sent, uploads fail, and attempts to download pages endlessly repeated.
I no longer bother to look at videos.
And, lest you think I'm 30 kilometres up a dirt road, I'm not. I'm 1 minute's walk from the exchange building.
Tinui School, also close to the exchange, has endless problems with getting its students online. Teachers go to Masterton to download teaching materials because to do so in Tinui is well nigh impossible. This is not helpful in an age when the emphasis is on training children to use the internet effectively.
The school is way down the list for the Rural fibre to schools initiative. The spreadsheet says "June 2014-June 2015."
I got a new modem/router. I got a technician to check the connection. He told me it was absolutely fine and would support a transfer speed of 7 Mbps. And noted I was 500 metres from the exchange.
The reason the transfer rate is so slow is because the UHF radio link in the Tinui Exchange - used to connect Tinui with the rest of the world - is well past its use-by date.
Worse still, despite repeated requests from the school, from technicians and from residents, Chorus refuses to do anything about it.
Castlepoint and Riversdale, in the same vicinity, have had their radio links replaced, no doubt to serve the more important interests of holidaying Wellingtonians.
Meanwhile, the needs of Tinui folk - and the school - are ignored.
This is shortsighted thinking. I simply can't believe that, with the wholesale migration from copper to fibre, there isn't some spare infrastructure lying round in a cupboard at Chorus, that could be used to replace this antediluvian radio link.
Chorus, you've laid down your Gigatown challenge. How about helping us in Tinui?