Are we remote?

Hills dwellers are not strangers to the vagaries of technology – thanks to the terrain we find so beautiful.
Many residents have tales of having to stand out on the verandah in the cold in order to make mobile phone calls.
Then there are those Cudlee Creek residents who live 15 minutes from Tea Tree Plaza but can’t watch the local news because they were relegated to a satellite service at the digital television switch over.
But this region might discover just how off the grid some of its population might be when the NBN Co finishes rolling out the national superfast broadband infrastructure program.
The difference between the “haves” (fibre to the node) and the “have a fraction of what’s available” (wireless or satellite) might be the difference of only 100m, depending on where your home is located in this region.
That might not seem so important now but in the future, when reliable access to superfast broadband is considered the norm and the copper wire system is obsolete, residents might find themselves severely disadvantaged.
If you lived in Andamooka in remote SA, you might be more willing to accept that you can only have access to satellite.
But if you live at Piccadilly like Stephen Birrell, and you did your homework before you moved your international business into the Hills, you wouldn’t be happy to learn that fibre to the node is too difficult, contrary to initial advice.
Mr Birrell has the means to buy the technology he needs to make his business work, or he can move his company to the US.
His argument is that access to the NBN is being paid for by taxpayers as a basic infrastructure service but a disproportionately high number of taxpayers will receive a significantly slower and more expensive mode of broadband delivery based on geography.
It’s why he and his neighbors have started the action group Gully Road Digital Divide to effect change in the NBN roll-out.
Whether the group brings about change in Mayo in an election year remains to be seen.
The cost and complexity of fixed services are prohibitive in some areas but if Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull wants Australia to be the country of innovation, perhaps the criteria need to be revisited or at least debated by the community.