Give Armidale numbers a chance, says Conroy


Communications Minister Stephen Conroy today said reports of low customer numbers on the fledgling National Broadband Network rollout in Armidale were “misleading and ironic”, given the network only launched on the mainland yesterday.

Conroy, along with Prime Minister Julia Gillard, local independent MP Tony Windsor, NBN Co chief Mike Quigley and a host of other parties officially launched the NBN in the Northern NSW city yesterday, claiming the Government had “made history” with the NBN reaching the mainland. However, shortly after, it was revealed that only a handful of customers had so far gone live on the network, with some outlets quoting as few as seven residents in the city using the network so far.

However, Conroy rejected the reports in a statement issued this afternoon, point out that 88 percent of Armidale residents invited to do so had so far signed up to have the NBN fibre connected.

“Media reports highlighting the few residents who have been carrying out initial testing on the network do not represent the level of interest, or the fact that the copper network will be decommissioned as part of the agreement between Telstra and NBN Co, which is currently being finalised,” the Minister said, pointing out that as the NBN was rolled out, almost every fixed line to premises would eventually be NBN lines, as Telstra’s copper network was simultaneously commissioned.

“In the meantime I look forward to more customers coming onto the NBN in Armidale and I also look forward to launching the other first release sites in the coming months.”

Conroy also commented on NBN Co’s approach to the mainland trials. “As you would expect, before NBN Co starts connecting customers they need to ensure the network is working without any glitches or problems. NBN Co carried out this initial testing in the lead up to yesterday’s launch and from now on more people in the Armidale footprint will be connected.”

Conroy said NBN Co’s approach was “responsible and sensible”, and it was “a shame” that some sections of the media didn’t recognise this.

The news comes as the NBN infrastructure continues to grow daily around Australia. This morning Internode announced it had launched ADSL2+ broadband services in Victor Harbour, using the backbone connection built to the remote South Australian town as part of the NBN rollout. Conroy said Internode’s announcement was “fantastic news” and represented a substantial improvement on the ADSL1 services on offer in the town.

This new infrastructure allows internet services providers, such as Internode, to expand their services into many regional parts of South Australia, including Victor Harbor,” he said.

Image credit: NBN Co


  1. What I want to see if the government making investments, and giving tax breaks into the entrepreneurial community to be developing applications, products and services that will actually utilise the full potential of the NBN.

    Without financial support of the startup and entrepreneurial community, the NBN will simply be providing the masses with faster access to YouTube and Facebook.

  2. How is only 88% of people accepting the free installation of a utility, with no obligation supposed to be a good thing? Surely anything short of 100% is an embarrassing failure.

    • @Ian

      You have to look at the figures a lot deeper to see why that particular area of Armidale was chosen first.

      The cable will pass 4882 premises and if you take out the University of New England it is only 2900 premises.

      The high connection rate will no doubt reflect the closed shop University campus.

      • Gee fancy supplying a University with state of the art comms so that our up and coming, can benefit…

        Whatever were they thinking?

        • It’s obvious what they are thinking.

          No need to get genuine interest from genuine households, just get one fat rubber stamp from a bureaucrat who doesn’t care because it’s just money going from one tax bucket into another tax bucket. Instant big percentage sign-up rate which is completely non-indicative for the rest of Australia where such trickery is not possible.

  3. You would think given the rollout in Tasmania that everyone here on the mainland would be tripping all over themselves to get the free trial.

    Seriously, if it is to be the only way you will get internet when this rolls out, why the trial? Should have already done the trials and just be moving people straight over as it’s rolled out.

    They are just making things up as they go, which is typical of the Labor government.

    This NBN is a square peg in a round hole, it is going to fit and Stephen Conroy will tell us all it will.

    • Um, it’s called testing.
      You have to make sure the job was done right and the parts are in good working order.
      Things break, and people make mistakes.
      Usually both happen early in something’s life.

    • “Seriously, if it is to be the only way you will get internet when this rolls out, why the trial?”

      Any network with 3000 end-points is a complicated beast. You don’t just connect all the fibres, flip a switch and hope for the best. A period of testing is to be expected before you sign up customers en masse.

      That said, I don’t think it was very smart of the govt to “launch” the Armidale network while it was still in test mode. The uninformed criticism from various quarters (OMG only 7 customers, the NBN is a disaster!!) is stupid but predictable. Why not wait until RSPs are ready to start transferring their entire user base to the new infrastructure? We’d see far bigger numbers then, which would prevent a lot of the sensationalist headlines we’re seeing now.

      • @Jeremy

        Sensationalist headlines are not limited to one side of the argument.

        “The Federal Government this morning claimed it had “made history” after it officially launched live services on its flagship National Broadband Network project on the mainland”

        Made history? – what complete and utter BS spin and hype at it’s worst.

    • Pony, certain biased people here (no not you) were the first to jump up and down, accusing the government of racing in prematurely, without the correct safeguards and thus mismanaging the insulation program.

      But “contradictorily (ah, contradiction, their second best friend, behind FUD) now say, “well why hasn’t the government/NBNCo done this or that yet”, expecting them to race in, totally ignoring all safeguards in relation to the NBN…just so they can again criticise later…sigh

      In some people’s eye (yes eye, one, singular) the NBN is damned if they do and damned if they don’t…!

  4. I live in Armidale. The NBN roll out does not cover the entire town. Only west Armidale, the university end. There is no roll out in the east of town, where poorer people and Aborigines live. Funny that. And my representatations about this to Conroy have gone unanswered.

    • How is that any different to Hobart? Where only a small percentage of our suburbs have currently been connected and are planned for stage 2? They have to be done in stages, so it’s only natural the entire city isn’t connected during the first roll-out.

      And to bring racism or socio-economics into it as though locations were based geographically around those areas is ridiculous. If that were the case I can guarantee Smithton would not have been first on the list for Tas. It’s one of the poorest geographically isolated places in Tasmania.

      I’m not familiar with Armidale or the NBN plans for it, but are you suggesting you’re not going to get fibre at all at your location? Or are you just winging because your area is not first on the list?

      • @Simon Reidy
        Since when are you the apologist for Conroy and his Department, the guy has a legitimate complaint that has gone answered.

    • West Armidale has a large public housing area as well. A large Indigenous population lives there too, just not the traditional mission area of east. I would guess that the public housing authorities signed up their rentals, and the land lords of private rentals in this area were quick on the uptake too. Duval High, and PLC and that area I believe are in the mix and there is quite a bit of ‘middle class’ housing up there. Although the demographics are not as spread as they would be if the whole town was the test site, there is still a range of incomes and housing.

    • What are they going to use to connect to the NBN? Their empty goon bags?

      Also I dont think a bit of tin counts as a premises.

  5. Fair enough, Simon.
    and as this is not an appropriate thread to discuss the class- and race-based nature of Australian society I won’t pursue that argument any more here.
    It is being sold on local TV as if its happening to the whole of Armidale. That is the usual government spin.Nothing has been done to correct this misrepresentation.

  6. “almost every fixed line to premises would eventually be NBN lines, as Telstra’s copper network was simultaneously commissioned.”

    _de_commisioned I think you mean Renai…

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