OZ Story - Net in the city is worth more than two in bush

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Net in the city is worth more than two in bush

It's tough being a "cyber hippie", especially when your Internet connection is akin to a string drawn between two tin cans.

Service disruptions, time lags and file corruptions are the potholes on the information superhighway that connects the world with Araluen, 90 minutes' drive west of Canberra.

Mr Tim Perring and Ms Alexis Piekalns left Canberra in search of a life with less to distract them from their computers; now it is the Internet service that drives them to distraction.

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Primary Industries and Regional Services called yesterday for the extension of universal service obligations to Internet services regardless of location.

A small service provider, a large pool of users and copper wiring for their phone connection make Mr Perring's and Ms Piekalns's Internet an exercise in managed frustration.

Ms Piekalns said: "We're very much Internet junkies: the way I like to describe ourselves is cyber hippies.

"Everyone talks about this virtual world, but it doesn't really exist yet, and it won't until everyone has the same connection speeds and access all around the world ... There's been days when you can dial up and connect but you can't bring up any Web pages, and that's basically because of the copper lines."

The couple planned to spend their lives working with computers and now work 16 to 20 hours a day online. They have been offered jobs in Sweden, where much of their work - programming a Dungeons and Dragons-style Net game called Igormud - is directed.

"It would be great to be able to work from down here," Mr Perring said, suggesting the whole town would benefit from a better service.

"I think the farmers could use it for their orchards to advertise and to connect with business people in Sydney."

Another of Araluen's 100 residents, Mr John Snell, lives in the old post office, once the town's link with the world, but has not gone online at home.

"I haven't tried to go online because the anecdotal evidence is that it's so bloody hopeless."

The Internet was extremely important, he said, for education, research and the ability to work from home. "Those kinds of minimum services, particularly in communications, really are a right in a developed country."'


I am involved with a rural small service provider, and users with copper wiring for their phone connection make it an exercise in managed frustration. The net phenomenon is showing up the differences in Australia. Try telling that to the urban elitists though.

Regards from cyber hippie - rural Down Under

-- Pieter (zaadz@icisp.net.au), March 13, 2000

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