Connecting to a new home - Myles Peterson

April 14, 2018

Topping the wish-lists of many young people in the housing market today is fast, reliable internet.

Topping the wish-lists of many young people today are fast, reliable internet and affordable housing.

Rounding out the list is a decent job.

Shepparton is fortunate to have the first two in abundance and no small shortage of the third for certain industries.

Fast, reliable internet can of itself provide the infrastructure for a decent job in other industries, particularly those in the creative fields.

In typical style, Barnaby Joyce drew howls of derision last year when he suggested young people who couldn’t afford a home should simply move to a regional area.

‘‘We believe that houses will always be incredibly expensive if you can see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, just accept that,’’ Mr Joyce told the ABC’s Radio National.

‘‘What people have got to realise is that houses are much cheaper in Tamworth, houses are much cheaper in Armidale, houses are much cheaper in Toowoomba.’’

Reception to the statement was not exactly warm.

Popular social media site Reddit, whose demographic skews towards the young and tech savvy, mulled over Barnaby’s musings for weeks.

‘‘The most frustrating part of all of this is that it highlights how useless politicians have been over the years across many areas and industries,’’ user ‘Moochops’ wrote in a popular post.

‘‘Don’t wanna live in the city? Okay, why not telecommute? Oh, because there’s useless internet infrastructure. Okay, why not catch a train? Oh, they’re useless, slow and frequently disappear. Why not get a job in a small town? Oh, right, Australia has two industries; mining and rental properties.’’

Similar sentiment reverberated across Reddit and beyond.

But applying Moochops’ hyperbolic statement to Shepparton suggests Barnaby might have been onto something.

Houses with Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) are a highly sought-after commodity.

I know, because as a recent arrival I used the NBN map to select my new home.

Real estate agents often underestimate how sought after the NBN’s peak service can be.

(Briefly, FTTP is where the NBN runs a fibre optic cable all the way to the house. The inferior alternative, Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN), involves running fibre to a junction or ‘node’ and the remaining distance is covered by copper wire. Fibre optic cable has a near limitless upload/download potential, while the copper is severely constrained by a host of factors, and can be influenced by degradation, even rain.)

Access to FTTP also factored in my decision to apply for a job in Shepparton, having experienced the terrible state of satellite NBN on the family farm in western district Victoria, and the sub-par offering of FTTN in Canberra.

I have never even had the opportunity to access FTTP despite travelling and residing across the country, from the farm, to Melbourne, to the country’s capital. Now Shepparton has come to the rescue.

As a writer, journalist and gaming tragic, FTTP is a godsend.

Large files whiz up and down the fibre pipes with ease and my KDR (kill/death ratio) has soared as I race around virtual battlefields, squatting on downed enemy players who claim to have had relations with my mother.

My love of the service is part entertainment, but for many it can be serious business.

Musicians, graphic designers, game developers, architects, photographers — the list of professions that demand the kind of speeds FTTP can offer is long and growing.

And some of them don’t require an office, or don’t want an office.

An affordable home with space to work will do the job just as well. Shepparton to the rescue again.

I don’t want to anger the locals without FTTP, as discussed in the pages of the News, the city has a digital divide of those with access to the service and those without.

And then there are those with no service at all ...

But fibre to the home is a reality for many, a highly sought-after reality. If I was in Federation Square this week, I would have a huge banner loudly proclaiming, ‘‘Fibre Internet To Your Affordable New Home!’’

Then I’d take a photo and post it to Reddit.

Myles Peterson is a general news journalist at The News.

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