Precision agriculture is a key focus of rural 5G trial

While the long-term plan for 5G is widespread coverage, we’re still in the early days and commercial deployments are largely focused on major metro markets. However, Cisco U.K., along with partners are looking “beyond the city” with a rural trial in Scotland.

Some of the target use cases that Cisco and the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and the U.K. government are examining include using autonomous drones and tractors for precision agriculture and remote broadcasting opportunities.

For its 5G RuralFirst testbed, Cisco and other ecosystem partners have set up 10 radio sites providing varying degrees of coverage over 3,000-square-kilometers in the Scottish Orkney Isles and around Somerset in England.

Writing in a Feb. 4 blog post, Cisco’s Stephen Speirs who works in the Data Center and Cloud Services group, said, “The objective of 5G RuralFirst is to demonstrate 5G’s game-changing potential and practical use cases that help contribute to the business case for improving “beyond the city” connectivity.  For many of you reading this, you will live in areas of pervasive connectivity.  That’s not always the case when you travel across the world.  Developing nations are challenged due to the cost of investment required. However, even in developed countries, like the United Kingdom and even the United States, lack of pervasive high speed internet access and pervasive mobile coverage is challenging both industry and government. The topic has also become a proverbial “hot potato”, with regular political escalations, often with – candidly – misinformed or misleading assertions being made in the press and TV.  And of course, most, if not all of us, will be familiar with gaps in mobile coverage – what we call ‘not spots,’ even within our biggest cities.  Even today, achieving pervasive mobile connectivity is a huge challenge.”

Other 5G RuralFirst partners include the BBC, BT, Microsoft, Parallel Wireless, the University of Edinburgh and the University of Surrey.

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