Trent Williams, Manager External Affairs of NBN Co, gives us an update.
Tell us about the trial?
The First Release Site of Armidale was the first centre on mainland Australia to receive the National Broadband Network (NBN) and is the first to realise the benefits of high speed broadband that will serve Australian homes, businesses, schools and hospitals for decades to come. Work on the NBN began in Armidale in August last year. This was followed by a trial period, during which time customers and businesses within the Armidale First Release Site were invited by service providers to trial the NBN service. The trial was an important step in building the network, when NBN Co worked closely with a number of telecommunications and broadband service providers to understand what support they will require to deliver services to people in Armidale and other places we will roll out. The network roll out in Armidale has progressed according to plan, with 4,900 households and businesses passed by the network in the Armidale First Release Site, and construction underway to make the network available to a further 9,600 homes and businesses.
At what stage are you up to with internet service providing?
The NBN trial period ended on October 1 this year. Now, people whose homes and businesses that have been passed by the fibre network in the First Release Site of Armidale can order an NBN service from any of the participating telephone or internet service providers. The launch of commercial services over the fibre network in Armidale signals the start of a new era of service and competition in Australia and in the Armidale region. Service Providers are beginning to offer a range of different plans over our open-access wholesale network, facilitating competition, better services and more choice for customers. With increased competition, you should experience a greater range of innovative services and pricing options.
Which companies are providing internet services to NBN customers?
Currently there are 28 retail telecommunications providers that have signed up to offer services over the network. Those looking for a service provider can look on the NBN Co website: http://www.nbnco.com.au/getting-connected/certified-service-providers.html
Why is NBN better than our current services?
The NBN will allow both telephony and high speed broadband services to be offered over the same optical fibre connection. The network is capable of offering consistently high speeds over long distances, and it can be upgraded to even higher speeds in the future*. This means it is capable of supporting a significant range of services often with an enhanced user experience. For example, it can be used by service providers to offer services that could allow high quality video conferencing with friends, work colleagues or medical professionals if participants have compatible equipment, software and connections. In Tasmania, services provided over the NBN are being used by schools to expand their educational offerings and have the potential to link students in their homes with tutors across the country in areas as diverse as music, history and physics. For everyday use, many people are now using their broadband connection to catch up on missed TV programs via the internet, such as the ABC’s iView service, or to watch movies via the internet. We expect Service Providers to offer high definition internet television services in more locations over time. With the NBN, there is also potential for different people to be on the network within the home, using different services at the same time, and without the connection slowing down to unworkable speeds. You will need the right software, equipment and in-premises connection to access these services. However for most people, basic internet services delivered over the NBN should not require any major changes to their equipment or inside wiring.
I’m not with NBN yet, so how do I get started?
If you are in the First Release Site footprint all you need to do is contact a Service Provider and register for a service. Your Service Provider will organise an NBN installation. There is no charge from NBN Co for a standard installation in to your home or business. Charges may apply, however, if a standard installation is not possible and a non-standard installation is required. Residents are free to stay with their current Service Provider or move to a new provider, depending on the contract arrangements with their existing provider. NBN Co expects many Service Providers to offer competitive services and prices, so we encourage you to shop around. If you are not within the current fibre footprint, we will be expanding the rollout over the next 12 months and may come to your area soon.
Work has begun on the next stage of the roll out across Australia, that will cover more than half a million homes and businesses. On 18 October, NBN Co released its inaugural 12-month construction outlook, listing the communities in each state and territory where work on the fibre optic network will begin up to September 2012. For more information about NBN Co’s rollout plan, please visit www.nbnco.com.au The roll out schedule includes an extension of the First Release Site in Armidale. A map detailing the new release site areas can be viewed here: www.nbnco.com.au/assets/media-releases/2011/maps-12-month-rollout-hr-18-oct-2011.pdf At the conclusion of the next 12 month construction phase, 9,600 households and businesses in the extended Armidale First Release Site area can expect to have access to an NBN connection. On average it will take around 12 months from the start of fibre network construction until residents are able to connect to the NBN to receive high speed broadband.If you have any questions about the status of the network roll out, you can contact the NBN Co call centre on 1800 881 816 or email NBN Co on email@example.com
*Speeds actually experienced will depend on a number of factors including retail broadband plan, equipment and in-premise connections.