BCG Addresses Poor Connectivity On-Farm in New Project

L-R: John Lucas and Dan Winston (Zetify), Rachel Ferrier, Sammy & John Mitchel, Andrew, Joel, Trent and Denita Donnan standing in front of Andrew’s Landcrusier with the Zetify rover mounted on the roof.

Many growers and rural businesses continue to experience issues with mobile and internet connectivity that would be considered substandard and unacceptable in larger regional or metropolitan centers. 

BCG recently provided an introduction to our teleconnectivity project with Zetify, funded by the William Buckland Foundation.  

Since that time, all of the BCG members within the trial have had Zetify rovers installed on their vehicles and the on-farm infrastructure installed.

As part of the project BCG will be communicating with the three families who have been selected to gather information feeding into case studies highlighting the outcomes of the project.  

Donnan Family, Anden White Sufffolks, Wilangie

The Donnan’s run a mixed faming business covering 9600ha, including a White Suffolk stud farm, at Willangie. With their current service provider, Telstra, Andrew, his wife Denita and his family face major issues with connectivity on their farm.

“Joel lives just up the road and has real issues with getting internet coverage” said Andrew “we’re hopeful that these units can give us some freedom to connect at the sheds as well as the house.”

Approximately 60 percent of their property completely lacks coverage and although they have a repeater installed on their house it only provided coverage for the building.  

Within the areas of poor coverage are the yards, which makes it difficult to upload lamb data measured in the yard, as well as making stud ram sales more difficult, with stock agents having to drive up on the hill to get service and call their customers before returning to the yard to place a bid. 

“Often we’ll have agents heading up the hill to get a client on the phone” Andrew explained “we’ve definitely lost out on missed bids when the agents can’t get a connection”

John and Sammy Mitchell, Barrabogie

The Mitchell’s currently use a mix of service providers, primarily Telstra, with two backup modems, an Optus and a Virgin. They have connectivity issues across approximately 70% of their 2700ha property. 

The main form of communication on-farm is SMS during the non-sowing and non-harvest periods of the year, and close range UHF,. which makes coordinating work throughout the day difficult.

“There have been times when Sammy has needed a lift and she’s sent me a message and I don’t get it” noted John “there are big issues on the flats with no service at all then you come up on a rise and your phone starts buzzing! The problem is it could be half an hour since the message was first sent.”

Due to the unreliable nature of their connectivity, the Mitchell’s find it difficult to measure the productivity they lose and the opportunities they miss. 

“I’d love to know how many phone calls I’ve missed that meant we’ve missed out on an opportunity” said John “but hopefully we’ll see some improvement with this equipment”

Cam and Rachel Ferrier

Through their current service provider, Telstra, 30-40% of the Ferrier’s 1600ha operation had no coverage before the project with service on the remainder  unreliable at best, and low-lying cloud and fog impacting their service even more.

There have been positive signs for Cam already. After having the Zetify Rover installed Cam noticed an immediate difference. “I was using it from inside the house when I first got it, it’s great for the mobile.”

However there has also been some immediate learning from the hardware. “It’s a bit hard on the battery when I was using it as a base station” says Cam “I found out pretty quickly when I went out one morning and the battery was flat!” 

All of the members primarily relied on UHFs to communicate during busy periods on the farm before the project, but they have all reported that now, with the rovers on their utes, they can reliably make phone calls and send texts from across their farms and on stretches of road where they previously couldn’t.

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