NBN arrives on the mainland

  • Armidale residents in NSW first mainland Australians to recieve the NBN
  • Plans available from iiNet, Internode, iPrimus, or Telstra
  • NBN services an "[absolute] boon" for business

A group of Armidale residents in rural New South Wales are the first mainland Australians to receive the National Broadband Network.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard attended the launch ceremony, pushing a big red button to switch on the service. Ms Gillard said the government would not stop "until the last cable is laid and the last home connected".

The handful of residents who are testing the 100Mbps NBN service can choose a plan from iiNet, Internode, iPrimus or Telstra.

Internode’s first two mainland NBN customers are IT professionals Stephen Stroud and Owen Hedger, who welcomed the fibre-optic service to the area.

Mr Stroud said: "For business, the NBN is going to be an absolutely boon – it’s phenomenal.

"Back in the old days, we needed three ISDN lines, with a combined capacity of 384 kilobits per second, to run a videoconference – which was fine as long as we didn’t have too many people and no one moved much.

"Now, with 100 meg down and 40 meg up, everyone can move and talk to each other in a great quality videoconference using a service like Skype. All you need is the right equipment at each end.

"That’s phenomenal for anyone trying to run a business, particularly in regional Australia. That quality of communication allows people to become much more productive."

The Armidale customers who have been trialling the service over the past month now join those already connected to the network in Tasmania, where the three communities of Midway Point, Smithton and Scottsdale were brought online in August last year.

Armidale is one of the five First Release Sites on the Australian mainland.  The other sites – Kiama/Minnamurra Downs, NSW; Townsville, Qld; Willunga, SA and Brunswick, Vic – will be connected when they begin customer testing in the coming months.