Rural broadband connectivity plays a major role in precision farming reliability, and recent spectrum acquisitions by John Deere hint the company could be looking to create dedicated wireless networks for its users.
The FCC recently concluded its Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS, spectrum auction, where licenses for exclusive access to the CBRS broadcast band were sold. Licenses were auctioned at the county level, and Deere walked away with 5 licenses worth over half a million dollars.
Jeff Johnston, lead communications economist for CoBank, says these licenses represent “a significant upgrade over Wi-Fi based networks.”
Johnston also says Deere could use these licenses to create dedicated wireless networks, which could be a boost to equipment sales as broadband connectivity becomes more reliable in underserved areas.
“If Deere is looking at markets today where there’s no connectivity, the farming market, the community, is not necessarily in any sort of rush to upgrade their equipment, because they can’t take advantage of a lot of the new technology that’s on this equipment, because there’s just not sufficient connectivity. So if there’s areas out there that Deere sees as problematic to sales of new equipment in those markets, what they could theoretically do is say, ‘OK, we recognize that. So what can we do to fix it? Well, we can go out and we can acquire some spectrum. We can build our own fixed wireless networks in these areas, and we can perhaps bundle LTE or eventually maybe even 5G connectivity services in these markets with our equipment.”
Johnston adds that the 5 counties that fall under Deere’s licenses remain unknown, but given their high price point, likely contain a high population of wireless users.
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