Anyone who wants to know what the hype about ultra-fast broadband is all about can see the benefits at an internet cafe with a difference in Whangarei.
Until May 8 the former cafe space in Forum North will serve as an ultra-fast broadband (UFB) Information Communications Technology (ICT) hub. Visitors - householders, artists, educators, clubs, small businesses to companies fully dependent on IT services - will be able to play with TV online, test smart payroll applications, take part in a virtual health clinic or play games running ultra-fast.
Helping them find their way around the free-entry hub are 18 tech-savvy, youth digital ambassadors who are rostered on shifts.
Spending their term holidays playing on smart phones or laptops isn't too tough a task for the students who can explain the complexities of internet-based products and applications.
"It's been awesome," said computing and business student Pita Maunsell. "This is a great opportunity to learn more and to use the latest stuff."
The youth ambassadors have had training in up to 30 different state-of-the-art products.
Beth Cooper, from the Whangarei Youth Space which was responsible for recruiting the youth ambassadors, said the decision to use young people rather than industry professionals showed confidence in the level of the ICT skills available locally.
"This is a demographic that uses technology the most. Part of this is a demonstration to the wider community that we have fantastic young people who are talented and can rub shoulders with the business, education, health and other people that will come to the ICT Hub."
Northpower Fibre chairperson Jo Brosnahan said locals had a great opportunity in being able to connect to the fastest broadband network.
"Simplistically, what they have to do is move from their copper phone and broadband connections and connect to the fibre network that is now throughout Whangarei.
"They can do this through their current service provider or one of the many retailers able to offer services over Northpower Fibre's network," Mrs Brosnahan said.