[illawarra mercury] The National Broadband Network's first Kiama customers have experienced "phenomenal" download speeds 40 times faster than existing internet connections.
Residents Paul and Jeanette Burgess were among the first customers to access the fibre network, which was officially switched on at Kiama Downs and Minnamurra yesterday.
They believe it will greatly enhance their home-based training business.
"It'll enable me to remotely access client data files and be able to help them in that way," Mrs Burgess said.
"I also will have better access for teleconferencing and running webinars, and to be able to put up training videos and things like that."
The couple has been using the NBN for about a week.
In that time, Mr Burgess said his home internet speeds had rocketed to more than 80Mbps, close to the 100Mbps promised via the network.
"It's instant," he said.
"When you open an email or something like that, it's just there, right in your face."
Only nine of the 2350 homes in the Kiama Downs first release area have so far been connected.
That number is expected to increase to more than 100 before commercial services begin in late September or early October.
Deputy Prime Minister Wayne Swan and Communications Minister Stephen Conroy visited Kiama yesterday for the launch, which marked the first connections on the east coast.
"The National Broadband Network is not just about building for today or even two years' time or five years' time," Senator Conroy said at the launch.
"It's about future-proofing our nation, giving it the best possible infrastructure to make it internationally competitive for the next 50 years."
Sen Conroy also rejected some suggestions that the network could cost more for regional users.
Retail service provider Internode released its NBN pricing last week, with packages ranging from $50 to $190 a month.
Sen Conroy predicted competition between service providers, including Telstra, Optus and iiNet, which are yet to release price guides, would drive costs down.
Other companies had already revealed deals for as little as $35, he said.
"So these claims that people will be paying more in regional areas for the National Broadband Network are just being shown by other retail service providers to be false," Sen Conroy added.