Prime Minister Julia Gillard today launched the start of construction in Townsville for the mainland National Broadband Network (NBN).
Townsville was one of the five first release sites chosen to receive the NBN on the mainland. Those sites will see around 3000 premises each connected to the new high-speed network, which will now be capable of speeds up to 1Gbps, 10 times more than the 100Mbps originally thought.
Four schools, and a significant commercial area, will be connected in the roll-out, which was contracted to Ergon Energy. The local construction work will employ up to 100 workers in civil, electrical and telecommunications engineering, according to the government. Houses will see online services next year.
NBN Co head of construction Patrick Flannigan said that mainland construction was set to start at the end of last month; however, the company only formally announced the contract for the Brunswick build in Melbourne, for which Telstra has been contracted.
Construction in Townsville will take about 12 weeks and the city will be one of five sites around Australia to get first access to the network.
However, Prime Minister Julia Gillard failed to put a number at the launch on how many homes will be connected to the NBN during the next three years.
"My simple point is, I mean, look today, it's happening today," she said.
The Prime Minister also could not say how much it would cost the average family to hook up to the network.
"It depends what you want," Gillard said, adding that the beauty of the network was that it's "super fast".
Different service providers would compete on price, she said.
"Obviously you will pick what you want in your home based on those price comparisons," Gillard said.
Tasmania already has had a taste of fast broadband, with services online in the towns of Smithton, Scottsdale and Midway Point.