Today, of all things, a strong internet connection is essential for successful farming. So, is your farm losing money from the rural broadband issues you’ve experienced?
Only a generation or two ago, it would seem almost nonsensical that farmers might struggle to keep up without internet access.
Yet here we are, living in a world where 73 percent of farms say they have a laptop or desktop and more than half own a smartphone, according to a USDA report.
With the rapid growth of precision farming, including digital tools and IIoT-enabled sensors that automate and improve the farming process, solid and reliable internet access will only matter more as time goes on.
So, is your farm losing money from rural broadband issues or a weak connection? Learn more below.
Why is Rural Broadband a Problem?
Rural broadband is one of the most popular internet solutions for modern farming operations, but the simple fact is that it doesn’t always do the trick. Broadband is set up through a series of routers, which sometimes leads to spotty reception or inconsistent farm wifi systems.
Rural internet is also not always available in some areas where farmers need it, which could slow down harvest production or cause farmers to hesitate when adopting new technologies.
What Are the Disadvantages of Broadband?
- Connection speeds vary depending on location and signal strength.
- Rural broadband is often more expensive than in urban areas, which cuts into profit margins.
- Setting up broadband is time-consuming and costly and may require additional solutions.
- In rural areas with hilly terrain, such as Appalachia, broadband may not be an option at all.
- Broadband issues may prevent farmers from keeping up with automation trends (costing them money and reputation in the process)
Why is Broadband Important for Farmers?
Precision agriculture helps farmers use internet access to collect and analyze data, conduct business with vendors, and connect to IIoT-enabled devices, such as sensors or drones.
How Do Farmers Get Internet?
- 27 percent of farmers have a digital subscriber line (DSL)
- 14 percent use a broadband connection through satellite
- 12 percent use a cable or telephone line
- According to Modernfarmer.com, 25 percent of U.S. farms still don’t have internet.
What Percentage of Rural Areas Have Internet Access?
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, only about 73.6 percent of rural areas have robust and reliable internet access.
With so many tools emerging that make farming more efficient and lucrative, this percentage is almost guaranteed to dwindle in the coming decades.
Why Is There No High-Speed Internet in Rural Areas?
For the most part, it comes down to price and technological limitations. Installing miles of fiber optic cables and 5G towers in remote areas doesn’t always make sense for internet providers, who may not be able to recoup their investment.
Additional solutions such as a wireless bridge, which adds up to 60 miles of solid wifi connectivity, may be necessary even if broadband can be installed.
This is one reason satellite technologies have become a solid solution for farmers living in rural and remote areas. Satellites used to be too costly to operate for most businesses, but that too is quickly changing.
Do Farmers Need Internet?
Looking at the tools a farmer’s competition is likely using, you’d be hard-pressed to say anything other than “yes” to this question.
Without strong internet for farmers relying on agricultural automation methods, profit margins could drop and result in a loss of market share.
Why is Internet Access Important for the Diversification and Rebranding of Rural Areas?
In more ways than one, the future of agriculture will rely heavily on a solid internet connection.
From automation tools that increase profits and yields to improving the quality of life for agricultural professionals and their families, internet connectivity is just as crucial for business as it is for personal reasons.
As the world becomes increasingly global and digitized, it’s easy to forget the vital role farmers play in making our society work. In fact, it will be farmers who create enough healthy food for our rapidly growing population, which is expected to approach 10 billion people by 2050.
See how FreeWave’s Fusion Bridge solution can upgrade the internet connection for your operation.