John Deere Has Big Plans for 5G

John Deere Machinery in a field

When we think of 5G, it can be easy to think of the vast entertaining value that this generation of wireless communication will bring to the palm of our hands, but how often do we consider what 5G will bring to our dinner plates? John Deere is looking to make a notable impact by combining the worlds of 5G and agriculture.

Instead of worrying about the percentage of a particular wireless market being covered or the number of wireless customers in a given region, John Deere is looking to keep a different audience covered with the fastest wireless speeds available, crops. As John Deere’s Dan Leibfried put it, “We want to make sure that every ear of corn and stalk of soybean has the opportunity to succeed.”

The overall goal for John Deere is to utilize 5G’s capabilities to increase food production. To accomplish this feat, the agricultural manufacturer will have to rely on other methods of distributing 5G than more urbanized markets. 5G in dense cities have the advantage to provide the fastest speeds available due to a variety of factors but with an emphasis on the infrastructure, cities have available to provide multiple towers producing high speeds. 5G networks work on a variety of bands and require many towers within a short distance to deliver high-band frequencies, the bands that are responsible for the faster speeds that 5G has to offer. Lower bands offer slower speeds but can travel further with mid-band spectrum striking a balance between the two extremes. Successful networks will need to find a way to capitalize on a mix of spectrum bands to deliver a seamless experience.

So far, John Deere has celebrated the efforts of a variety of wireless networks. T-Mobile and AT&T have celebrated successful nationwide networks with Verizon continuing to build its 5G network. DISH Wireless is even slated to enter the 5G arena after getting its start in wireless thanks to acquiring Boost Mobile with additional players such as U.S. Cellular also expanding its capabilities. Still, John Deer is interested in much more than covering the 5G usage of consumer devices. “We are pushing to boldly cover the land, not just the people,” said Leibfried. A particular focus for John Deere is monitoring the current state of the FCC auctions for CBRS band.

The auction encompasses over 3,200 areas with smaller licenses the size of countries which has created demand from a wider range of qualified applicants, of which, John Deere is a part of. Out of the 271 qualified bidders, up from the 35 qualified bidders that were a part of a previous auction for high-band, mmWave spectrum, John Deere is a part of this pool. The current round of auctioning and the auction planned for December gives John Deere hope that additional players will be able to enter the 5G game.

The push for rural 5G coverage isn’t a new concept for John Deere as it has been working with the FCC and the Agriculture Broadband Coalition to cover rural markets. The FCC established a $9 billion fund to expand the capabilities and coverage of 5G in rural markets throughout America in December of 2019 with $1 billion targeted at precision agriculture, a core of John Deere’s business.

Agriculture’s demand for technological tools continues to grow within the sector. 5G will help improve already existing functions in the realm of automation, AI, and communication. Using cameras and devices to determine the amount of water and pesticides are needed can help streamline farmlands, save money for farmers, and lessen the harmful side effects that may occur with growing crops. After seeing multiple disruptions stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters, farmers and agricultural experts as a whole have seen the need to accelerate better farming practices with 5G looking to lead the way.

Source: Light Reading