Actually, we got cable
a hell of a lot earlier then 1999. And it is far from unusual
The first non - free-to-air carrier in Australia was known as Galaxy, which developed a large number of new television stations, and began their pilot services by Satellite in 1992. Galaxy soon became extremely popular among Australians, allowing connections almost anywhere do to its flexible infrastructure.
Soon enough though, after a full 2 years running alone in the new industry of pay television Galaxy generated competition by the likes of Austar(1995), Optus(1995) and Foxtel(1995). Unlike Galaxy though, all of the carriers (excluding Austar), used cable to deliver their media. All of the carriers, though, provided entertainment ranging from comedy, movies, business and so forth. Cable provided a much cheaper alternative for those living in the urban (the most densely populated areas in Australia) areas, plus allowed those who didnt want an expensive satellite dish with a better way to go.
Eventually Galaxy died around 1997, leaving the competition to Foxtel, Austar and Optus Vision. Foxtel easily took the lead, with some of the most popular channels (Showtime (movies), Channel V(music), and news channels ranging from CNN to Fox News), plus providing both a Satellite (launched in 1997) and a cable service to customers. Austar followed Foxtel's lead, and while it does not provide a cable service (only Satellite), it mixes both the great channels of Optus and Foxtel, and is the only available option to most regional subscribers.
Optus Vision is the least popular cable service, as its grid is very limited (it does not install in townhouses, units, and has a fragmented area of service - even in urban cities), channels are of low quality (except the movie ones), and it does not provide a cable service. On the flip side though, Optus provides the best cable internet service hands down. Unfortunately, since its area of service is very limited, a lot of possible subscribers miss out.
So, while Australian cable services are not as comprehensive of those in say, America, we are far from infancy.