Test customers go live on Armidale NBN

The first mainland National Broadband Network (NBN) services have gone live, with users in Armidale reporting operational fibre access to the $36 billion network.

Users reported on the Whirlpool user forum on Monday that services had become operational that morning.

A University of New England IT service support staff member told Computerworld Australia that another staff member had been connected to the network on the same day to iiNet.

Computerworld Australia contacted iiNet for confirmation but did not receive a reply at time of writing.

An NBN Co spokesperson confirmed a “small number of test customers” had become operational as part of a soft launch of the network in the area. The wholesaler expected to more widely announce the operational network from next month.

It is unclear exactly how many test customers received the live NBN services, though iPrimus chief executive, Ravi Bhatia, said six of the service provider's customers received the service from 9.30am on Monday morning.

The release site, located in west Armidale, covers approximately 2900 premises including a section of the University of New England campus in the area. According to the university, each student dormitory and on-campus buildings not owned by the institution were connected to the network, rather than to the institution’s own 1 gigabit connection, and are expected to be lit soon. Students will be provided with the opportunity to select a service provider of their choosing for NBN products.

They will have a choice of 12 retail service providers, including specialist business service providers, though only four providers #8212; Telstra, iPrimus, iiNet and Internode #8212; have currently on-boarded to NBN Co's mainland wholesale systems.

Educational service provider, AARNet, which provides existing data services to the university, will also offer services to some customers in Armidale over the NBN, but is likely to only provide research-specific access to university students and staff.

(NBN two years on: The key milestones so far)

The connection of Armidale services comes eight months after the network was first launched at three trial sites in Tasmania, and more than a year after the NSW town was announced as one of five release sites on the mainland.

The four remaining mainland sites #8212; Townsville, Willunga, Kiama Downs and Brunswick in Melbourne #8212; are expected to go live over the next two months as construction is completed by the respective contractors. NBN Co head of procurement, Kevin Brown, confirmed recently that, unlike the Tasmanian build, some of the five release sites had gone over their intended contractual budgets.

Armidale received the highest take-up of all five mainland sites of over 90 per cent of those premises included in the build.

More to come.

Follow James Hutchinson on Twitter: @j_hutch

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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