Down on the (Connected) Farm
Around the world, governments and broadband providers struggle with how to cost-effectively deliver Internet connectivity to rural regions, given the typical lack of real return on investment. But connected farms and use of IoT by federal and local agencies may be a partial route to affordable connectivity far from the madding crowd.
By 2020, the "total addressable market for telecom operators in agriculture" will be $12.9 billion from vertical integration, partnership, marketing and value-added services, according to a recent white paper from Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
"Farmers depend upon broadband and other wireless networks to stay updated and participate in specific industry directed knowledge-sharing initiatives," the paper said.
That does not include additional income from surrounding areas or non-farming revenue from complementary opportunities such as the federal government (in the US, for example, the Department of Fish and Wildlife), local government (such as regional parks and recreation departments) or businesses (including manufacturing, retail, logistics firms like local truckers and SMBs).
Although a number of solutions rely on non-broadband Internet of Things (IoT) networks, the pending arrival of 5G, demand for data analytics, cloud-based applications and video are only some drivers for wired broadband capabilities.
After all, broadband access benefits farms, which often are quick to adopt new technologies such as GPS, automation and analytics. That was the case for Sunterra Farms, which invested in fiber-to-the-home network from ISP Axia Fibre Net about ten years ago, said Ray Price in a published report.
"The high-speed broadband was a game changer," Price said, noting that the Canadian farm uses the network for data collection from farming equipment and nearly instant analysis. "Axia has allowed us to link with customers around the world and data analysis to improve productivity in livestock and grain land. The technology means access to future markets for pricing and hedging, data sharing for meetings, access to Skype… the list goes on."
Providing farmers with ultra-broadband enables them to run their operations more productively and efficiently -- and encourage more young people to enter the vital vertical, said Alan Jagoe, president of the European Council of Young Farmers (CEJA) on EuroActiv.com in March.
"If we don’t run it as a business, if we don’t make a profit, we won’t be farming. Technology is going to make this more appealing to a whole new generation of farmers that never even considered farming before, or considered us but didn’t think that it was, you know, a sexy career choice,” the Irish farmer said.
— Alison Diana, Editor, UBB2020. Follow us on Twitter @UBB2020 or @alisoncdiana.
In a flurry of activity throughout the week, Donald (DJ) LaVoy, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development at the US Department of Agriculture, and his team spent about $145.8 million in the non-urban or suburban areas of seven states.
Calix reported revenue of $120.19 million – up 4% – in Q4 2019, putting a bounce in the step of company president and CEO Carl Russo and a shine to Calix's ongoing transition from hardware vendor to a provider of platforms enabled by cloud, APIs and subscriber experience.
Looking to curtail e-waste and improve the bottom line, BT will require customers to return routers and set-top boxes, although subscribers will not have to pay a fee when they receive regular broadband equipment.
The industry standards organization is looking to ease operator pain from residential WiFi, while it also sees initiatives in connected home and other projects bear fruit.
Deploying DOCSIS 3.1 across its entire footprint gave Rogers Communications the ability to offer speeds of up to 1 Gbit/s, contributing to a broadband segement that generated about 60% of the Canadian operator's $3.05 billion (US) in Q4 cable earnings.
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