Amazing what they can do nowadays. Doctors can guide a surgery from 500 miles away. The kids have phones doing their homework. We recently discovered Spotify. But as we look forward to this newest newfangled thing--this thing called 5G--it might just be the farmers in our state who get the most out of it.
Some of us can remember when the first iPhone came out. The parts of Arkansas that had cellular Internet coverage saw 2G speeds. Now we're looking at 5G--which stands for the fifth generation of wireless technology, the latest and fastest to roll out from cellular providers.
With most of the state covered by 4G LTE service, many customers have the speed to watch movies on Netflix or share pictures of their grandkids on Facebook. We knew a Boy Scout a few years back (when 3G still hadn't come to every corner of the state) who would joke that some of the campgrounds near Little Rock weren't real camps because you could get a 3G connection while you were supposed to be roughing it.
Farmers in our state can benefit in many ways from having a fast wireless Internet connection--but current 4G LTE plans come with data caps too low for them to use extensively. Enter 5G. Not only is the new tech faster, it also has increased network capacity, thus eliminating the need for data caps and throttling (or slowing down speeds).
Farmers will be able to use 5G to do some incredible things: Imagine self-driving tractors plowing acre after acre with guided mapping technology delivered with a continuous data connection. Fields can be digitally mapped and better managed. Farms can be studded with sensors that provide real-time feedback on soil conditions and other important data, all sent back to the farmer. And all these devices will be connected over the same high-speed 5G network.
What this will allow farmers to do in the long run is perhaps double or triple their yields. It's not just about letting farmers watch Netflix. More food and efficiency will be needed as our planet's population is expected to hit more than 9 billion in 2050. That's a lot of mouths to feed.
Editorial on 02/13/2019
Print Headline: Looking ahead