AARNet has unveiled plans to connect hundreds of homes for the first time over the National Broadband Network as part of several research trials it has lined up across the country.
The connections will mark the first time the research internet service provider has directly served broadband to residents that are not staff or students of a university.
Its private network has typically been used to connect universities, research institutions and more recently TAFE colleges and some high schools with high-speed broadband.
It became one of the first providers to offer services over the NBN in the first five mainland sites but primarily targeted premises connected directly with universities or on campus within fibre-serving areas.
Though the provider maintains no plans to move into commercial NBN services, CEO Chris Hancock told iTnews that upcoming trials in Townsville and the Melbourne suburb of Brunswick would be the first time it had served residential premises.
AARNet plans to connect up to 20 homes in Brunswick later this year in a 15-month trial allowing physiotherapists to train classes of six to eight elderly patients at a time using the Xbox Kinect device, voice activation and virtual avatars.
It comes as part of a research project conducted by the University of Melbourne's Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society, which is developing dozens of new applications to take advantage of higher speed connections over the NBN.
In Townsville, Hancock said AARNet would connect "several hundred" premises over the network to the general practices within the Townsville-Mackay Medicare local area, allowing nurses in the area to monitor diabetes patients in the town.
The two e-health projects are some of the NBN research testbeds AARNet plans to provide in cooperation with research institutions or universities.
"This is the trial is important to gauge how successful it is for this group of people and if we believe the health outcomes and the social outcomes are achieved, you'll see this developed throughout the home to multiple devices," Hancock said.
AARNet's direct connections to premises outside of universities would be isolated solely to projects intended for the home.
"It's not really our project to connect them [home users to the internet], that's for the commercial service providers to do," he said.
"We have a very clear mandate and it's certainly not in the commercial field. Ours is to test and trial and testbed things with respect to the research and collaboration outcomes that will come from it."
Hancock would not reveal other planned projects but said several were planned for direct connections to homes in the near future.