Farmers and ranchers are falling behind in their quest for business information and services, and also education and entertainment for their families offered on the Internet.
"The problem," says Tim Ganschow, "is that many rural residents don’t realize high-speed Internet access is available to them regardless of where they live." Ganschow is vice president of operations for Agristar Global Networks. Agristar’s mission is to expand high-speed Internet connectivity throughout rural America and to other major agricultural regions worldwide.
But according to a 2005 USDA survey, only about 15 percent of all farm operations had broadband capabilities.
Growth of high-speed Internet access has skyrocketed. According to Goldman Sachs Research, an estimated 81 million U.S. households were wired in by 2006, representing a 75 percent increase since 2000. Unfortunately, because high-speed access hasn’t been available, people living in rural areas are lagging behind the information curve, but not because they don't want to improve connectivity.
Low population density has severely limited access to the technology. The four primary delivery systems for broadband include DSL, cable modem, wireless towers and satellite. According to research by Merrill Lynch, some 20 million households, most of which are in rural areas, have no access to cable modem or DSL solutions. That situation isn’t likely to change soon.
One possible option for those who can’t get cable or DSL is something called terrestrial fixed wireless (towers). However, this technology has a direct-line-of-sight range of four to seven miles.
There's also satellite technology, which offers plenty of speed to run broadband applications and the service is available anywhere in the continental United States.
But what about 3G, WiMax (4G), or broadband over the power grid?
While all three are excellent next steps in communication technology, they will be of little or no use for rural citizens. Both 3G and WiMax are tower dependent and, while they might be of use in rural communities, they don’t possess the capability of reaching far enough to appropriately serve farmers and ranchers. As for broadband over power or telephone lines, the technology is there, but the economics are not. Rural population densities are just too low to justify the investment by a private company because of the line upgrades that are required to deliver broadband.
For the foreseeable future, high-speed Internet access via satellite is the best and sometimes the only option for many rural farms, ranches and agribusinesses. "The good news for today’s Agristar subscribers is that in many rural areas satellite technology already is faster than the local DSL. And, with satellite technology always advancing with ever-faster speeds, those connecting via satellite won’t be left behind as Internet technology evolves," says Ganschow.
Agristar Global Networks is powered by Hughes, the world’s largest broadband satellite services provider. Boasting an installation network of more than 4,000 certified technicians and a customer base that includes more Fortune1000 firms than any other satellite company, the service is highly reliable and made for business.
To learn more about getting your farm or ranch wired for broadband, visit the Agristar Global Networks, Web site, www.agristar.com.