Australia has connected the first citizens to its National Broadband Network, with a limited launch in the town of Armidale.
ISPs Internode, iiNet, iPrimus and Telstra are the first operators to provide services on the mainland, with Internode and iiNet leading the way by connecting one customer apiece.
Communications minister Stephen Conroy revealed that 87% of the town’s residents have signed up to be connected to the network, which will likely happen in September when a full scale commercial launch takes place. At that point, AAPT, AARNet, Comscentre, Exetel, Nextgen Networks, Optus, Platform Networks, SkyMesh and Vodafone Hutchison Australia will launch their own retail offerings.
The government's strategy for the NBN involves concentrating rollouts in rural areas first, starting with the historically underserved island state of Tasmania. The first trial NBN services debuted in the state last year.
But despite the government's progress with the network, the A$39.5 billion (€29.5 billion) project could still be scrapped if the opposition Coalition wins government at the next federal election in 2013.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott this week said the Coalition will dump the NBN if it wins power, although shadow treasurer Joe Hockey yesterday admitted that the extent to which it would be able to wind back the project depends on how many contracts the government signs between now and then.