Avoiding 5G implementation deadlock in the agriculture sector
van der Waaij, B.
To meet the increasing demand for food as the world’s population continues to grow, farmers will have to use the latest technology, not only to produce more with less labour but also to ensure sustainability. The next advancement in wireless telecommunication is fifth-generation (5G) technology, which offers faster speeds and response times than its predecessors and enables new options for farmers, such as precision agriculture. The Netherlands has very high 4G coverage and is expected to have the same level of 5G coverage. The country can therefore be seen as fertile ground for 5G innovation and application for the agriculture sector. In the rest of the world, and even in the EU, the situation is very different: in most other countries there is little or no 4G coverage on farms, let alone in the fields. There is no business case or incentive for telecom operators to invest in rural areas and there are few, if any, regulatory requirements. The small proportion of rural areas that will eventually have 5G coverage is not a large enough potential market for multinational agricultural manufacturers to invest in costly 5G development. There is therefore no prospect of 5G-based products and services developed by global agricultural manufacturers being available (in the Netherlands or anywhere else in the world)in the near future. This paper identifies 5G innovation opportunities for the agriculture sector and suggests directions for possible solutions to avoid or resolve a 5G implementation deadlock. This will require collaboration between stakeholders. Hence, this paper has been written for agricultural manufacturers, (EU) telecom companies, private network providers, farmer collectives, national governments and the EU.
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