Prime Minister Julia Gillard officially launched the first National Broadband Network (NBN) mainland test site in Armidale and has flagged more funding for an education project as part of the Digital Regions Initiative.
Thirteen ISPs have signed up for the NBN mainland trials at Arimidale in NSW, Kiama in NSW, Wilunga in SA, Townsville in Queensland and Brunswick in Victoria.
The Prime Minister kicked off the Armidale NBN at a button-pushing ceremony at Presbyterian Ladies College accompanied by Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, and independent MP, Tony Windsor.
During her speech, Prime Minister Gillard said she would be announcing funding for a new education trial this afternoon as part of the Digital Regions Initiative, a four-year $60 million program to fund digital enablement projects in remote Australia. University of New England and the New England Institute of TAFE will be involved in the new project.
“The trial will use the power of this [broadband] technology to provide state of the art virtual interactive training rooms, laboratories and community learning capability,” Prime Minister Gillard said. “This is education… that overcomes the tyranny of time and distance that has so often held back regional Australia back.”
ARN will provide updates on the announcement.
NBN preparations for Arimidale took 10 months with 105km of fibre being laid. Around 3000 premises will be able connected to the network but only a small number will gain access to the NBN at launch. More customers will be able to connect to the fibre network in the coming months.
According to the Government, around 88 per cent of Armidale residents are interested in taking up the NBN.
Pictures of the launch ceremony to follow.