Once likened by the Government to the arrival of electricity in the home, the National Broadband Network has had a tumultuous history.
Nevertheless, the national fibre project today cleared another important milestone - with the first services on the mainland officially launched by the Prime Minister in Armidale. A handful of people (some of which were already connected prior to today's launch event) will be connected via Telstra, iiNet, Internode and iPrimus, with speeds ranging up to 100Mbps (read more detail at iTnews about the plans being trialed at the Armidale test site).
While the goal is for the NBN to eventually deliver speeds of up to 100Mbps to 93% of Australian premises, this isn't a widescale rollout yet.
The Armidale launch is one of five initial sites where "live trials" of the NBN will be conducted, at Brunswick in Melbourne, an area of Townsville, Minnamurra and Kiama Downs and Willunga in South Australia. In all but Willunga, about 3,000 premises will be covered in each location.
A reported 90% of households covered by the Armidale trial have reportedly asked to be connected. In Tasmania, where the first NBN trial began last year, several thousand homes were initially covered by the first rollout of the network. This week it was revealed that 723 customers in Tasmania have connected via the fibre network.
In Armidale, iiNet has pointed to a University student and researcher as two examples of NBN users benefiting from the faster speeds. The NBN will allow students to "participate in lectures and practical sessions via high quality video conferencing", according to an iiNet statement.
The NBN has come under renewed criticism from Opposition spokesperson Malcolm Turnbull, who argues the fast broadband services could be delivered cheaper.