Many farming communities in remote and rural areas have found themselves left in the cold in the push to get Australia’s NBN network rolled out across the country.
Rather than remaining a forgotten corner of the country, communities in Western Australia’s south-west are about to see some exciting changes to their internet.
As part of the Western Australian Government’s Digital Farm Grants Program, Superloop is building 12 new Fixed Wireless towers across the Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions.
These towers will provide high-speed broadband internet service that will extend across 12,000 square kilometres, with coverage reaching over 500 farms, 3,000 local businesses, and up to 10,000 households in the area.
“We’re incredibly excited to be part of this initiative with the Western Australian government,” said Superloop CEO, Paul Tyler. “Not only will this project improve the connectivity in the region, it also gives farms and businesses in these communities a real competitive edge.”
Fixed Wireless internet in rural and remote farming communities
Fixed Wireless technology allows remote communities to connect to the internet using towers that transmit microwave radio signals. Properties that have receivers installed on their roof can then pick up this signal which is transformed into an internet connection.
The Fixed Wireless technology is set to improve internet connections for thousands of people in remote and rural farming communities, many of whom rely on outdated services and unreliable signals.
Superloop has developed similar technology in South Australia. Superloop’s South Australian Fixed Wireless service connects close to 7,000 customers to high-speed broadband, often providing internet where the NBN would not reach.
Fast internet helps farms succeed
High-speed internet is crucial for communities like WA’s Great Southern and Wheatbelt regions as it allows farms to use the latest technologies that help make farm management easier.
"[Australian farmers] have always been early [technology] adopters I feel as an agricultural sector,” Kendenup grain and sheep farmer, Andrew Slade told ABC News.
Increased connectivity and internet access allows farms to engage with software and technology that gives farmers the opportunity to more effectively manage and monitor crops, livestock, rainfall and water levels, farming assets, and employees.
"There's just so much technology coming out now that's digitally enabled,” said Mr Slade, “whether it's remote-monitoring technology or real-time capture of telematics on tractors, or things as simple as being able to get in contact with staff.”
The Agtech sector is big business. Start-ups across Australia are developing innovations that can boost farming practices through automation, robotics, and improved tracking and data analysis. However, many of these technologies require an internet connection to operate or to send reports and data. Without good quality connectivity, Australian farmers are missing out on these big opportunities.
“Improving internet access to these remote communities is an important step that will get Australian farms on the path towards higher growth for their businesses and expanded markets locally, nationally, and overseas,” said Superloop CEO, Paul Tyler.
“It’s about time Australian telcos considered these areas a core component and vital asset to the country’s bottom line.”
The Digital Farm Grants Program is an initiative of the Western Australian Government and supported by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.