It seems like every couple of weeks I get a postcard in the mail from a local Internet provider promising a more reliable high-speed connection. I’ll often pause for a moment and consider making a switch, thinking of those occasional frustrations that pop up with my current provider. 

I’m not sure if the grass would be greener with another company, but I’ll admit to being spoiled by the convenience and availability of today’s technology. So when I’m streaming Big Hero 6 for the hundredth time and it takes 3 hours to get through a 75-minute movie because of a spotty connection, it’s a little aggravating.

The culprit is often bandwidth capacity. The best analogy for bandwidth I’ve come across is to think of data as water going through a pipe. As bandwidth increases, so too does the data, but if the pipe size remains the same, only so much can flow through, creating a potential clog. 

This is a concern also on the radar of the Agricultural Industry Electronics Foundation (AEF) as it pertains to equipment compatibility. Visiting recently with several foundation members, they talked about the need to increase the capacity for transfer of ISOBUS data from tractor to implement in the near future.

“Quite simply, we’re going to run out of bandwidth,” one AEF executive says. “Some combinations of machines already go up to bandwidth level utilization, which is too high. We as manufacturers have a responsibility to keep it as low as we can, to keep things running.”

A recently formed AEF working group is exploring the potential of high-speed ISOBUS, which would allow for more data, like more sophisticated imagery or camera system connections, to flow from the cabled connection between machinery. 

AEF is looking to other industries use of high-speed Ethernet connections to see what practices can be adapted to ISOBUS, and is considering a proposal to increase to 100 megabits per second (Mbps) as a standard bandwidth. 

Of course, the big challenge will be implementing a broader bandwidth, while not stunting the progress being made toward equipment compatibility. As one AEF member says, the working group will rely on “backwards compatibility” meaning that they’ll have to make sure the ISOBUS standard isn’t compromised. 

“ISOBUS isn’t a finished product and we’ve just brought this concept to the market and are now thinking about the next generation,” the AEF member says. “Customers and dealers have to trust that ISOBUS will work and they aren’t buying into an old technology.”