EWA Responds to USDA NOI
EWA filed comments on April 1 in response to a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) issued by the Farm Service Agency, an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The NOI seeks input on current and anticipated non-Federal spectrum needs of entities engaged in agriculture, forestry, mining, and rural manufacturing.
EWA noted that these systems typically operate in the VHF and UHF bands because of favorable propagation and penetration characteristics and, in recent years, many businesses have upgraded from analog to digital equipment. Doing so increases the number of communications paths available on the same amount of spectrum, thereby enhancing spectrum efficiency. It also facilitates a shift from voice-centric to voice and data operations. EWA also stated that as these industries become increasingly mechanized with technological solutions filling many, although certainly not all, functions that previously were performed by humans, the ability to run high-speed, low-latency data applications becomes paramount. The outdoor machinery used in farming, mining and other operations is in the vanguard of driverless vehicles with tractors, cranes, and other industrial machines operated and monitored remotely. Their locations are determined by GPS and their operations are managed via wireless data applications.
Finally, EWA noted that agriculture is an excellent example of an industry with an increasingly urgent need for broadband capabilities, particularly in parts of the country that remain underserved by commercial wireless networks. As farm properties consolidate and climactic issues become ever more challenging, remote device monitoring and control take on critical importance. Farmers are not only monitoring the location and growth of their crops, they are tracking and controlling: the volume and speed of the water that irrigates them, all conditions of the soil in which they are growing, the prevalence of and response to insects that could harm them, the weed control process that facilitates improved crop output, plus the timely harvesting and efficient packing of their products that maximize crop yields. Conducting these varied tasks, plus real-time video monitoring of overall farm activities, in an integrated fashion requires broadband functionality.
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