Part of my goal here (and on Twitter) has always been to make complicated things simple. Tonight, let’s talk about Wifi internet on the farm.
I’m seeing a lot of companies out there selling expensive, complicated products to broadcast internet all over you farm. Between buildings, between farmsteads, inside steel shops, wherever. Many of these companies make it look simple when it isn’t, or complicated when it doesn’t have to be.
Here is what worries me about many of these companies’ promised solutions:
REPEATERS – Wifi is finicky to start with, this makes it twice as much so, not to mention it can slow throughput (speed) and ping (response time).
REBRANDING – Too many out there are taking off the shelf products and marking them up in the name of making things simple.
OVERPROMISING – No, your tablet isn’t going to work good beyond a few hundred feet with your “5 mile range Wifi”… Wifi is a two way street, and traffic needs to see each other coming and going at similar speed (in this case power output).
SETUP / INSTALLATION AND PLANNING FEES – I understand this somewhat, but if you read the manual, or know someone with good technical ability, there is little reason setup fees can be avoided.
What I propose that can work for you:
KNOWLEDGE: Find someone you trust that will be honest about the limitations of Wifi. Wifi is NOT perfect technology and it changes quickly
RESEARCH: Figure out your needs for internet around the farm(s). Write them down in an organized fashion. Look around at different companies that specialize in communications technology, it doesn’t have to be just for the Agriculture industry. Learn what realistic expectations are.
ALTERNATIVES: Consider a cellular data plan. I know it costs money monthly, yearly, whatever. Shop local and see if they’ll let you take a demonstration device home to test coverage and speeds. Consider a local telephone company, some of them have semi-portable devices now too.
And above all, don’t sign on the dotted line until you trust the solution and the provider of the solution.