According to a USDA report, 29% of U.S. farms have no access to the Internet. As more and more poultry farmers recognize the Internet of Things as the next big development in agriculture, access to reliable high-quality internet isn’t only a convenience, but a necessity.
As the landscape of modern farming continues to evolve rapidly, high-speed internet is a critical tool required to maximize efficiency, monitor health of flocks, conserve natural resources, and control costs. Even the U.S. federal government recognizes the importance of bringing high-speed internet to rural areas. In September 2022, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced more than $500 million in loans and grants to telecommunications providers to bring high-speed internet to rural communities across the country.
In order to remain competitive, farmers in rural areas need access to reliable mobile and fixed broadband connectivity to use the latest in precision agricultural equipment. However, poultry farmers can only take advantage of this type of precision agriculture technology with a strong wireless internet connection for data collection. Accessing the internet can happen through a variety of methods, including: fiber, cable, satellites, digital subscriber line (DSL) and the original, dial-up. Not all options are available everywhere. What makes them different? The technical elements needed to– and more importantly, how much data and how quickly it can transmit it for you. See the ISP options below that could help you take advantage of the different technologies that could bring your poultry farm into the 21st century.
Internet Types and Their Capabilities
When transmitting data, speed and volume count. If you are uploading lots of data and doing it often, you’ll want it transmitted quickly. How is it measured? In megabits per second (Mbps). And if you are wondering “How fast do I need my internet to be?” the real answer is: as fast as you can get it in your area. Depending on the type of internet service provider (ISP) available in your area, you can expect the speed to be approximately:
In most areas, you’ll find satellite and 4G/5G LTE home internet service are both widely available. There are a variety of satellite options available, depending on where you are in the country, including those from CenturyLink and Starlink. The available services and what kinds of technology (software applications and hardware) work with it or are required to support it can vary.
As telecommunications companies have expanded their service offerings in the past decade, 4G/5G is both faster and more readily available than it once was. For customers who need internet access on an immediate basis and have reliable access to signal, 4G/5G may be the way to go.
On the plus side, 4G/5G options involve purchasing readily available and inexpensive hardware, and plans are almost always less expensive than satellite options. National cellular providers AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon all have wireless home internet services, though they’re not always offered everywhere that has cell service. For example, even in an area where a phone service provider has a good signal, it might not offer a home or business internet service. Potential customers can use this high-speed internet provider tool to see what internet providers may service their area. You will still need to evaluate what is available in your area – and whether it supports your specific applications and hardware. It pays to do your homework.
Keeping an eye on the possibilities
With the high demand for internet service, options are becoming more widely available. The FCC requires broadband providers to report on their service reach twice a year, which can provide you with some ideas for what providers may now cover your area. This includes the biggest companies moving into fiber (for example, Google Fiber) and slowly rolling out across the country. You may find other provider options from tech magazines such as CNET, which publishes articles on the Best Rural Internet Providers, as well as a variety of other tech insights you may find useful. General business sites like Forbes also run articles on the “best of” that may provide insights and ideas for you. This is in conjunction with keeping up with what’s new and can be automated in poultry farming to improve your yield and reduce flock loss. This is an evolving and growing market, so new options for both technology and the high-speed internet access may become more widely available to you over the next few years.