By Claire Reilly

SYDNEY, NSW: The rollout of the first mainland site of the National Broadband Network in Armidale is expected to boost sales of new computer hardware, according to Neil Mortimer from Armidale Retravision.

The first mainland site of the NBN is being switched on today in Armidale by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the Minister responsible for communications and broadband, Stephen Conroy.

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Mortimer welcomes the move and says he expects a spike in the retail market as people see the advantages of accessing the NBN with newer and faster hardware.

“We’re quite optimistic about it,” Mortimer said. “I think the take up rate is going to be quite high in Armidale, especially in comparison to Tasmania. There will be an initial reaction I think in the retail market. As people see what can be achieved with downloads they will start to realise that their hardware is probably insignificant or outdated.

“There are roll-on effects from not only just the hardware, but VOIP I think will receive a real kick now. VOIP modems should start to take off again, whereas previously they’ve not been too practical.

“I’m not opposed to the NBN going in, I think it’s a good idea. At this point in time, fibre optic is the way to go.”

Armidale is the first of five key sites to receive the NBN following the roll-out in Tasmania, according to a report from the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Other sites include the coastal communities of Minnamurra and Kiama Downs in Wollongong, parts of suburban Melbourne and Townsville, and the rural town of Willunga in South Australia.