In contrast, only 51 per cent of households in Tasmanian test sites agreed to a fibre connection, prompting some to question whether Australians would embrace the publicly funded project. In some regional towns nearly 90 per cent of houses will be connected. NBN is bringing fibre to 12,200 houses in five mainland test sites. NBN Co is overwhelmed by the number of households in mainland test sites signing up for an optical fibre connection to the national broadband network. Retail carriers are expected to start providing broadband and telephone services in about eight months.
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So far 54 per cent of households have consented in Townsville but NBN Co expects that number to rise to 64 per cent as landlords return forms for rental properties. NBN Co has not yet announced wholesale prices, which must be approved by the competition watchdog. The Armidale site encompasses the University of New England and is in the seat of the independent MP Tony Windsor, who cited the project as a key reason for supporting the Labor government. “That number is considerably above what we had anticipated.”

About 84 per cent of properties in the McLaren Vale township of Willunga, South Australia, had agreed to connect, and 74 per cent in Kiama. State property laws prevent NBN Co contractors from entering a property to lay the final few metres of fibre and to connect equipment unless the company receives the owner’s written consent. At least 87 per cent of properties at a test site near Armidale have requested fibre connections, the highest rate so far. “We are very happy with what we are finding in the first-release sites on the mainland,” NBN Co’s chief executive, Mike Quigley, told BusinessDay.