For many, dealing with slow Internet and poor connections are a thing of the past. Not so for many living and working in rural America. In today’s world that lack of access to resources others take for granted can be a serious setback in the business world.
“Internet connectivity is what I would consider an enabling technology,” said Terry Griffin, assistant professor of agricultural economics at Kansas State University. “Without it, precision ag devices and other special technologies cannot be fully utilized until this infrastructure for wireless connectivity has been completed.”
GPS or other navigation system are particularly difficult to utilize in slow Internet areas. These services, called telematics, are becoming increasingly important to agriculture. Griffin, who specializes in cropping systems for K-State Research and Extension, points out that the use of that technology is up 15 percent in just the last two years. And while adoption of telematics is on the rise there is only small percentage of service providers able to use that tech.
In places where Internet access is available users still face difficulties with upload speeds. Generally speaking, download speeds are three times faster than upload speeds.
“The problem with that for agriculture is we tend to want to upload data from fields that we generate from our farming equipment rather than download,” Griffin said.
Still, data acquisition may be possible, even if real time collection isn’t. Cellular providers are feeling the pressure to improve their services so growers can move data, at least at some point. Law makers may be part of the push as well, but supply and demand will play the biggest part in improving speeds for rural areas.
“Internet connectivity is improving all the time,” Griffin said. “I think it will improve through natural business processes from the wireless carriers when they see there is a need for agricultural and construction uses of data transfer in rural areas.”
Still, no one can doubt the future looks bright for the use of more technology in the field. “In the future it will be solved,” Griffin said. “I’m not sure when the future will be, but it will continue to get better.”