The company in charge of building and operating the National Broadband Network this morning revealed it would construct its national operations and test facility in Melbourne’s Digital Harbour development, as confirmation arrived that the first customers have been connected to the NBN in Tasmania.
From the Melbourne facility, NBN Co will monitor and manage the NBN network and facilities, order service connections and repairs, and allow telcos using the network to test their services, a statement issued by the company this morning said.
The centre will host some 425 staff, when fully operational, NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley (pictured) said, using about 4000 square metres of space.
“This facility will be the centerpiece of our network and the key interface with our customers, the retail service providers, who will be using our network to provide high-speed services to their business and residential customers across Australia,” he said.
NBN Co is planning to have the facility up and running early in 2010 – before commercial services start to be provided through the company’s early release fibre deployment sites on the mainland.
Nationally, NBN Co will contract out service installation and repair work, coordinated through the Melbourne centre.
There was a significant degree of interest from several state governments in hosting the NBN Co’s headquarters, but over time, Quigley has continued to emphasis the distributed nature of NBN Co’s operations, pointing out today that while the Digital Harbour site was NBN Co’s second site in Melbourne (it also has an office at 360 Elizabeth Street, where it plans to host about 290 staff), it also has offices in Sydney, Canberra and Hobart.
Quigley himself is based in Sydney.
“NBN Co chose Melbourne as the location for the Network Operations Centre because its engineering and technology operations are based here,” Communications Minister Stephen Conroy said in a separate statement this morning.
Quigley and Conroy were scheduled to hold a press conference in Melbourne on the new centre this morning.
The news comes as it was also confirmed this morning that the first customers have started to be connected to the NBN in Tasmania.
Conroy said in his statement that the first NBN services were “set to go live within weeks”, but Internode issued its own press release this morning, confirming it had connected IT technician Robert Pettman, who lives in Midway Point in Tasmania – at about 5pm yesterday.
“It’s awesome,” said Pettman, who Internode said works as a senior IT customer support officer in Hobart. “It’s a major speed increase on what I had before, which was a 1.5 megabit per second ADSL service. Since it went live about 5pm, I’ve done speed tests and have seen a few peaks of 80 megabits per second, although it mostly hovers around 50Mb/s, which is what I ordered.”
Internode has received “strong demand” from Tasmanians in the early release areas, according to the ISP’s product manager Jim Kellett. “We’ve deliberately offered a service that is better priced than ADSL so that people have a real incentive to test out this new service,” he said. “We want to use this opportunity to discover how people use fast Internet services when they are not constrained by either price or speed.”
Image credit: NBN Co