Actility, the global leader in LPWA IoT Networks, is pleased to announce that its ThingPark platform is powering the rollout of the Connected Country Network in Australia. The Connected Country network is the result of a new joint venture between Delta Agribuiness subsidary Discovery Ag and long-standing Actility partner the National Narrowband Network Co (NNNCo), and was launched last week at Australian Farm Institute’s Harvesting the Benefits of Digital Agriculture conference in Melbourne.
For agriculture, Connected Country will provide the backbone infrastructure for networks of low-cost wireless sensors that constantly report on essential farm metrics like soil moisture, rainfall, crop health, water levels and livestock data. The sensors use limited power and can operate ‘in the field’ for years without the need for intervention. The network will be immediately rolled out across 400,000ha (1m. acres) in the NSW Central West area. Within 18 months the joint venture partners intend to provide Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity across vast areas of the nation’s farming regions.
“While hi-tech farming techniques are in use today, 80% of Australia’s farming footprint lacks adequate network coverage,” explains Discovery Ag CEO, Alicia Garden. “For those that do have coverage, existing 3/4G cellular technologies make it too expensive for most farmers to network their sensors and create a truly connected ‘smart farm’.This private infrastructure project is initially about building the enabling technology to make the IoT viable for Australian agriculture,” adds Garden.
“As the network builds out, though, it will by default cover many other businesses and urban areas, so anyone who wants to develop a sensor network but who has been prohibited by the cost of data transfer will be able to join the Connected Country system and achieve their goals. This project is the first of its kind in terms of the size of the area we’re aiming to cover and will attract significant global interest. No-one has been willing or able to deliver such a solution on this scale before and we see it as a major step in helping ensure regional communities are ‘connected’ and able to improve the way they do business.”
NNNCo Founder & CEO, Rob Zagarella, adds “The Rural IoT network, delivered by the NNN and powered by Actility’s ThingPark platform, will solve the connectivity and affordability problems for farmers. Together with Discovery Ag we will be providing a low-cost end-to end standards based solution comprising on-farm networks, network-ready sensors, and access to simple on-farm tools that farmers can use to monitor information and take timely action.”
Actility CEO Mike Mulica comments “Projects like this clearly demonstrate how industrial IoT has now moved into a stage of widespread deployment to solve real problems and deliver concrete benefits. Agriculture is quick to adopt new technology when the business case is right. This network will be a game changer for farmers in Australia’s Connected Country, thanks to its dramatic reduction in the TCO of an IoT solution. We’re very pleased to be able to support NNNCo and Discovery Ag in the speedy and cost-effective roll-out of the technology bedrock of the Connected Country.”