Yes we do need broadband: Fed Farmers

Telecom and Gallagher Fences have been working on the long-standing problem of electric fence interference with phones and dial-up internet connections, and have produced an advice pamphlet for farmers and other rural customers close to farms.

Telecom and Gallagher Fences have been working on the long-standing problem of electric fence interference with phones and dial-up internet connections, and have produced an advice pamphlet for farmers and other rural customers close to farms.

This mitigates the problem within the scope of the present infrastructure, says Federated Farmers’ spokesman Gavin Forrest, but it is not a long-term solution. Federated Farmers helped draw up the checklist.

Telecom and Gallagher’s advice boils down to minimising current flow in fences near telecommunications lines, and ensuring these fences are properly earthed. It is current that causes the interference, and significant current does not have to flow to maintain a high voltage on the wires.

“Effectively this is creating a well-tuned Model T Ford as compared to the latest-model Falcon,” says Forrest. A long-term solution is “really about getting a better-quality wire”, and while telecomms suppliers are doing that, they may as well go for a broadband medium, Forrest says.

Telecom’s and Gallagher’s five-point checklist, Forrest says, will go a long way towards providing the 56kbit/s modem access which former E-commerce Action Team head Gil Simpson says is all that is needed for e-commerce (see 'You can do business at 56k').

“That will be all right to do your online banking and for dairy farmers to communicate with Fonterra. But we have to think of the next generation, and that will involve video [and other high-bandwidth services],” Forrest says.

“We’re not just talking about farmers; we’re talking about rural industries and professionals.” For example, a service station sending images of the symptoms of a faulty vehicle to the manufacturer overseas for a fast diagnosis, or the rural GP doing the same for a patient with a remote specialist.

“To say 56K is good enough for today is like me asking you why you’re not still using the PC you bought 10 years ago,” Forrest says. “It still works, doesn’t it? Yes, it does, but not with the new software and internet services.” And it will be the same with telecommunications, he says.

“It’s good to think initiatives like Probe are there. While serving the schools it could provide a decent backbone for all rural users.” Broadband to every door should be the aim, he says.

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