Viewpoint | 28 Jan 2020

Helping pregnant cows and spotting leaky pipes

In the second of a two-part series for the Countryside Alliance, Scott Petty, Vodafone UK's Chief Technology Officer, writes about the exciting technologies that are coming to the countryside.

I talked previously about the Shared Rural Network – an agreement between the big four mobile companies to share masts and resources in a bid to ensure there is a 4G mobile signal across 95% of the UK land mass by 2025.

This isn’t the only exciting technology coming to the countryside.

The Internet of Things (IoT) – data-collecting sensors and other devices connected to the internet – offers many benefits to those living and working in the rural areas.

For example. MooCall is a sensor mounted on the tail of a cow. It’s connected to Vodafone’s network and sends an alert when the cow is about to calve, giving the farmer the chance to seek veterinary assistance as early possible. MooCall has helped ensure the safe birth of more than 150,000 calves since 2017.

We’re utterly committed to working closely with rural communities to make this exciting future happen

We’re also using IoT to help water companies detect leaks and monitor their networks more efficiently, so they can save water and fix faults sooner.

And connected drones, autonomous farm machines, and soil monitors could help farmers become more targeted and sustainable in their use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. Some call this precision farming.

Over the coming years, high-speed 5G mobile connectivity will also be rolled out to rural communities, offering speeds up to 10 times faster than 4G and the ability to connect many more devices at the same time with virtually no delays. The capability of 5G could transform the way we work, live and connect with others. For some, 5G could even become an alternative to fixed-line broadband at home.

So rural communities have a lot to look forward to – the long-running connectivity disadvantages will gradually disappear, reinvigorating communities and opening up new business opportunities.

At Vodafone, we passionately believe technology can enrich people’s lives and bring people together – it’s a wonderful enabler. So, we’re utterly committed to working closely with rural communities to make this exciting future happen.