Thursday, June 22, 2023

Space and Satellite\ Food Infrastructure: Agriculture Satellite Broadband and IoT projects.


SIA President Tom Stroup Testifies Before Congress on Satellite’s Role in Agriculture

By Rachel Jewett | June 21, 2023

SIA President Tom Stroup testifies before Congress on June 21. Screenshot via House Committee on Agriculture Youtube

Satellite Industry Association (SIA) President Tom Stroup testified before Congress on Wednesday, calling for funds and grants to support satellite broadband and IoT projects focused on serving rural areas. Stroup spoke to the House Committee on Agriculture in a hearing on closing the digital divide in rural America. 

He highlighted the importance of satellite technology for agriculture from satellite IoT for soil and livestock monitoring, precision GPS, Earth imaging for farming insights, weather forecasting, and broadband communications. Particularly that satellite broadband can be deployed anywhere with little upfront cost. 

“Satellites are critical to 5G and IoT applications that will enable the next generation of farming technologies. Satellite communications allow for remote control of driverless tractors, or networked connectivity between equipment at large farms where equipment may not be in the same sightline,” Stroup said. 

Stroup made seven recommendations to the committee — offer financial incentives or tax breaks to satellite internet providers to encourage their participation in rural broadband expansion; allocate funds for satellite broadband and IoT focused on rural areas including last-acre buildout; make requirements for programs technology-inclusive; streamline regulations; protect satellite spectrum; encourage partnerships with satellite and other companies and stakeholders; and fund satellite R&D. 

In terms of tech-inclusive requirements, Stroup pointed to the fact that fiber is not always economically feasible, but requirements can leave satellite out of the solution. 

“Technology-agnostic requirements can also facilitate collaboration and partnerships between different types of broadband and IoT providers, enabling hybrid solutions that leverage the strengths  of multiple technologies to deliver robust and reliable broadband and IoT connectivity to rural areas,” Stroup said. 

The hearing will help the Agriculture Committee craft broadband provisions for the 2023 Farm Bill, said Chairman Glenn Thompson, R-Pa. 

“Despite decades of effort and billions of dollars spent, too many communities are still on the wrong side of the divide,” Thompson said in an opening statement. “Together, we can provide the Department of Agriculture the tools it needs to bring broadband connectivity to rural America quickly and responsibly, and with sustainability. Simply put, we must meet the current and future needs in rural America,” he added.



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