The company in charge of building and operating the National Broadband Network will 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.
NBN Co will monitor and manage the NBN network and facilities, order service connections and repairs from Melbourne, and allow telcos using the network to test their services, the company announced in a statement.
The centre will host about 425 staff when fully operational, said NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley, and will use 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.
See a Slideshow from the announcement
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,” said Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy, in a separate statement.
Quigley and Conroy were scheduled to hold a press conference in Melbourne on the new centre this morning.
The news comes as it was confirmed that the first customers have started to be connected to the NBN in Tasmania.
Conroy said in his statement the first NBN services were “set to go live within weeks”, but Internode issued its own announcement confirming it had connected IT technician, Robert Pettman, who lives in Midway Point in Tasmania – at about 5pm on July 2.
“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.”