Armidale is set to become the first city in Australia to be fully fibred, confirmed the chief executive officer of NBN Co, Mike Quigley, during a visit to the city on Thursday.
The announcement came a day after Armidale Dumaresq Council became the first recipient of federal funding to install local government services utilising the fibre-optic network.
While in Armidale, Mr Quigley observed installation of fibre-optic cable, met with Mayor Peter Ducat and visited the NBN Smart Home.
Mr Quigley was shown some of the applications of the NBN, including an online eye test, videoconferencing and sensors on electrical appliances, and expressed enthusiasm about the Smart House.
“Armidale’s Smart Home is an excellent example of how the NBN will help improve the way we live and work for decades to come,” he said.
He said initiatives such as the Smart Home would help people understand the potential of the NBN.
“People are now realising the NBN is real, it’s going to be here and they’re starting to look at applications,” he said.
“We’re seeing all sorts of exciting applications which are going to be of enormous benefit to society in health, remote health and education in particular.
“That combination of wireless technology and fibre technology is going to be a winner for the country. It’s not a question of we need one or the other, we need both.”
Mr Quigley defended the public’s reaction to the NBN, claiming Kiama on the south coast and Willunga in South Australia were pushing toward 40 per cent take-up rates.
“Contrary to popular belief, the take-up rates are surprisingly high,” he said. “When I speak to telcos from other parts of the world, they look at the take-up rates here in Australia and ask how it’s happened so fast.”
The NBN take-up rate in Armidale is currently about 15 per cent, but Mr Quigley expected the local figure to “increase rapidly” as the rollout continues.
Despite the delay in reaching an agreement with Telstra to use existing infrastructure, Mr Quigley said the rollout was continuing successfully.
“Like in all big projects - and this is a big project - it will always take a bit of time to get going, but we’re well underway now,” he said.