Business Insider ran a piece yesterday that suggests that the ordinary folk of Armidale, the first mainland city to get NBN connectivity don’t really care for it much. I don’t think that’s the entire picture.
To be fair, the Business Insider piece is casting against general election issues, and the NBN is just one of those. Armidale’s a fairly typical regional city, which is to say that there’s a strong conservative streak — the last time there was a Labor MP representing the New England seat was 1913 — and I’ve no doubt that the views of those canvassed are indeed their own opinions.
I’ve got my own ties to Armidale — I was born there, and up until very recently it was the city in which I’d lived the longest anywhere — and it’s quite a mixed place, which means any vox pops like this are going to give you wildly different results. Ask around the University, and you’ll get one point of view; ask around the industrial estate and you’ll get a different view.
However, it’s not the whole story. I’ve written about Armidale and the NBN recently, and there’s some strong work being done there to take advantage of the city’s position as an NBN stronghold, coming directly from the city council. There are Facebook groups for those in Armidale keen on the NBN, or with questions. I could (and I admit, I know people locally) find a dozen or so people who’d happily extoll NBN benefits rather than dismissing it as a non-factor in their voting choices.
In many ways that does make it a good microcosm for the NBN debate across Australia. On a broader front, it highlights how under an FTTN system, there will be those who are haves, and those who are have-nots. At a personal level, you’ve got those who will be passionate about it, and those for whom (as with those in the BI story) the NBN is a non-factor.
Asking a shopkeeper who won’t even take EFTPOS about technology issues is only going to end one way, after all.