Farm of the Future

Wireless trials at a grain and hog farm demonstrates potential rural broadband solution and power an innovative “smart farm” platform.

Investing in Broadband

Broadband can provide life changing opportunities and Charter is continually investing in our network to deliver faster and better broadband to more people in more places whether they live in big cities or rural America. Since 2014 we have invested more than $32 billion in infrastructure and technology, which has enabled us to expand the reach of our network and significantly boost starting broadband speeds at no cost to our customers. Last year, we expanded the reach of our network to be able to provide broadband to nearly 500,000 additional homes and businesses—almost 35% of which were in rural areas—and rolled out gigabit connections across virtually our entire footprint

We’re also exploring new and innovative ways to enable the next generation of connectivity that will create new opportunities for consumers, businesses and our economy in the years to come. Charter is very excited about the potential to use innovative wireless access technologies, including 5G, 4GLTE and WiFi combined with our advanced wireline network, to deliver more ubiquitous, super-fast, low latency broadband to urban, suburban and rural communities.

Trialing a Potential Rural Broadband Solution

There are significant economic and geographic challenges to providing broadband to less-densely populated parts of the country. Charter has been conducting fixed wireless trials across our footprint, using both licensed and unlicensed mid-band spectrum, and we believe it could offer a cost-effective solution for providing wireline-like broadband connectivity to homes and businesses in harder to reach rural areas.

The Smart Farm

One of our trials explored using fixed wireless using C-band spectrum to provide connectivity to a grain and hog farm in Keystone, IA. Elliott Hoole, Director, Wireless R&D explained, “The overall goal of this project was to determine that Charter could transform people’s lives and transform our customers’ experiences in a rural broadband scenario.”

Also in the trial, using unlicensed spectrum in the 5GHz band, we built a “smart farm” platform to demonstrate what could be done with that connectivity to further improve life on the farm.

The smart farm app allows the farmer to monitor and control what is happening on the farm from his home. Information from more than 70 sensors and cameras in fields, grain silos, and hog houses, as well as images from drones, are communicated to the farmer via the connected platform using WiFi.

 

This allowed the farmer to track temperature, humidity, soil moisture, sun, oxygen levels, and movement, all without having to leave his house. Fifth generation farmer Brian Pickering said the smart farm app “gave me quite a bit of freedom where I didn’t have to always come out here to check everything. I could actually monitor remotely.”

Our trial on the farm demonstrated how innovative wireless access technologies using licensed and unlicensed spectrum could both bring connectivity to this farm and be further used to solve real world problems for the farmer.

Explore Charter’s Smart Farm Trial

Click through the video below to explore Charter’s “smart farm” where broadband connectivity and an innovative app enables a farmer to monitor his farm from anywhere, anytime.