THE long-awaited fibre optic roll-out of the the National Broadband Network for Coffs Harbour has officially begun.
Contractors yesterday began laying the first distribution fibre as the first step toward connecting homes and businesses in the area with the first connections to go online early next year.
NBN spokesman Darren Rudd said cable would be layed in modules covering 3000 homes, as detailed in maps released last month.
Coffs Harbour will have access before many areas nationwide.
"There are places in Australia we won't be going to for nine years," Mr Rudd said.
"In addition to the work under way to connect parts of Coffs Harbour and Sawtell, work is under planning or construction in Korora, Toormina and Boambee.
"NBN Co is aiming for construction in those suburbs to be completed in the first half of 2014."
The work is the first tangible step towards 30,000 premises being connected in Coffs and Sawtell.
Senator Matt Thistlethwaite joined Coffs Harbour Mayor Denise Knight to help lay the first cable on Joyce St.
Mr Thistlethwaite took the opportunity to spruik the health and educational benefits the infrastructure would bring and announce $273,000 in funding for the Coffs Harbour City Council to promote the technology to businesses.
He said the technology would transform the way people worked and played in Australia.
"This really is a big step for the residents and businesses of Coffs Harbour," Mr Thistlewaite said.
"I don't doubt locals want to connect to the NBN as soon as possible and grasp all the benefits it will bring to the community."