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Middle mile infrastructure is improving in the Salinas valley, with a quantum shift due early next year. That’s expected to help improve poor last mile broadband access, at least when compared to what the average California can expect to get. In a nutshell, that was the message I delivered to the Salinas AgTech meet up last week. You can download the presentation here.
The evening’s program was about broadband resources that could be available to support the development and deployment of Internet of things (IoT) applications, services and products in the region. The Salinas Valley is one of the world’s highest producing agricultural areas, and is just an hour’s drive south of Silicon Valley. Well, okay, it’s an hour when the traffic cooperates, which is not always a good bet. But even so, it’s close enough to make it the logical go-to development bed for agriculture-focused technology.
IoT will play a big role in the future of agriculture in California. All the talk about broadband gaps notwithstanding, water is the one absolutely critical – and desperately scarce – resource here. IoT can help manage it intelligently, both directly via increasingly granular and situationally aware irrigation control, and indirectly by reducing wasted or ill-timed production. And that’s just one aspect of IoT’s agricultural potential.
By the end of March, an open access fiber route – built by Sunesys with a grant from the California Public Utilities Commission – will connect the lower half of the valley to dark fiber that stretches back to heart of Silicon Valley. Besides improving retail broadband services for consumers and small businesses, it will also support the growth of high capacity, industrial class connections which can serve major agribusiness operations as well as the kind of low power, low bit rate wireless networks that will make widespread deployment of IoT technology feasible in the fields.