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Options for improving telecommunications across northern Australia for a connected beef industry

Did you know MLA has gathered the latest information to help producers make informed decisions about improving their remote connectivity?

Project start date: 30 April 2019
Project end date: 07 October 2019
Publication date: 28 November 2019
Livestock species: Grassfed cattle

Summary

The cost of providing telecommunications, such as internet, to support the use of new agricultural technologies is restricted by the size of infrastructure required to cover large properties across northern Australia.

The purpose of this review was to assess the suitability of current and emerging technologies that could help improve internet connectivity across the northern Australia beef industry.

The report details the cost and usefulness of the National Broadband Network, different mobile carriers, radio systems (including wireless), satellite options, land-sensor networks and future technologies. Options have been rated as being either 'acceptable', 'somewhat questionable', 'ambitious or lacking in detail relating to cost', or 'extremely questionable based on current cost' for different areas of northern Australia to help producers make informed decisions.

Objectives

The objectives of this project were to:

  • identify the connectivity needs of northern Australia pastoral operations
  • survey current and emerging land and satellite connectivity options and their potential in the context of extensive pastoral operations
  • identify and communicate the range of connectivity solutions available to pastoral operations that maximise internet and phone connectivity within, and between, regional and remote locations.

Key findings

  • The report outlines several case studies for different telecommunication options that apply to cattle, water, environment, staff and business management scenarios that can be used to aid producers.
  • The report provides a summary of the most current options regarding the key areas of connectivity that were reviewed. This includes the cost and suitability for building telecommunications and subscribing to different networks across northern Australia.
  • For properties currently trying to improve their businesses connectivity, a "wait and see" approach has been recommended with regards to emerging technologies that may provide better options, such as satellite-based sensor networks.
  • Incremental improvements in NBN Sky Muster and 4G phone plans may provide a useful, temporary solution for the connectivity of beef operations across northern Australia.

Benefits to industry

The value of data collection and the ability to use that data for effective and improved business management drives the profitability of red meat producers in northern Australia. This project offers information to give producers the ability to create a tailor-made telecommunication set-up that best suits their own situation.

MLA action

MLA is distributing the results of this review to producers and the wider red meat industry to improve regional connectivity and help increase the adoption of new technology.

Future research

Technologies that will be available within three years and promise significant improvement, such as infrastructure sharing and the 'Mobile Blackspot Program', warrant further investigation once they are available.

Related resources

MLA publications

External guides and products

More information

Contact email: reports@mla.com.au
Primary researcher: GHD Pty Ltd