Traverse County needed ultra-broadband for their farming community, but wanted a faster way to cut through the red tape. They bypassed the State and approached Advantenon to deploy Fixed Wireless throughout the County
The County needed a reliable and high-speed offering for its residents, capable of handling both commercial farming IoT applications, and residential streaming and distance learning
Advantenon deployed a network of point-to-multipoint links with Mimosa A5c access points, C5 and C5c client devices, supported by licensed and unlicensed backhaul radios
The network is a tremendous success for Traverse County business and residents, with word-of-mouth delivering 10% of Advantenon’s addressable market with no advertising spend
Traverse County in West Central Minnesota is home to vast soybean, sugar beet, and corn farms, and the resulting harvests make Minnesota the fifth largest agricultural producer in the U.S. The flat, sparsely-populated county has some of the state’s largest farms and until recently, incredibly unreliable, slow internet access with unreasonable data caps.
Realizing that their farmers needed ultra-broadband to stay competitive, and frustrated with the amount of paperwork required by the State to get projects kick-started, the County decided to take matters into its own hands and contacted Advantenon, a wireless internet service provider (WISP) based in Plymouth, Minnesota for help.
Wireless Broadband to the Rescue
Advantenon spent a month researching the requirements of the county’s residents and existing internet options. In the spring of 2017, Advantenon presented the County with a plan for deploying wireless broadband, created a partnership and secured a no-interest loan. By the summer, residents started enjoying access to high-speed internet.
“We realized we had a huge, untapped opportunity in Traverse County,” said Rhonda Antrim, former County Coordinator at Traverse County. “By bringing high-speed internet to our communities, we have immensely improved the productivity of our farmers and made the County a better place to work and play. We are most excited by the fact that the project was simple to plan and very quick to deploy, bringing benefits to our community much faster than if we had worked though the state process.”
The WISP offers all residents in the County unlimited high-speed data with speeds of up to 100 Mbps. This allows residents to use applications which aid farming operations, provide access to educational portals for online learning, and enjoy high-quality video streaming.
Unlocking the Power of IoT
For the farming community, high-speed internet has unlocked the power of Internet of things (IoT) applications, allowing them to tap into connected systems where they can remotely monitor and control drying data, monitor livestock and key equipment with real time video, and monitor leaks and system issues with IoT sensors. These sensors transmit very basic data – motion detection, and water, voltage and temperature settings, for example – usually to a mobile application on the farmer’s phone.
More advanced industrial controller devices can connect to more sophisticated pieces of machinery, like grain dryers, feed-grinding systems, livestock watering and feeding equipment, and grain handling equipment. These systems require additional bandwidth to send more sophisticated data, like status updates of running jobs, real-time bin capacity, and moisture content. Advantenon also expects security systems to be an increasing part of farm business, with demand for connected cameras, and home automation, but on a larger scale for farm yards.
“The availability of reliable, ultra-broadband has been a game changer for the farming community, allowing farmers to access data that was previously unavailable to them,” said David Coudron, President at Advantenon. “This gives farmers new opportunities to improve their forecasting and operations planning, and ultimately, their profitability.”
Back at home, the increased bandwidth powers education applications that allow students to take classes and advanced courses remotely. And teachers can use those same apps to grade papers from home and get them back to students in real time.
“Residents have also really enjoyed the fast speeds,” said Paul Hess, Vice President at Advantenon. “When we spoke to residents, one of the key requests was to have the service up and running by August, when children go back to school. More than 50 percent of our subscribers use broadband for primary K-12 education, and they are excited to finally be able to complete homework in the comfort of their home.”
The Midwestern WISP took full advantage of the rural area’s flat terrain and the quiet spectrum in planning the 5 GHz deployment. Using the Mimosa Design Tool to evaluate tower location options, Advantenon ultimately selected ten towers to deploy Mimosa’s A5c access points, C5 and C5c client devices installed on homeowner’s rooftops, barns and steel bins.
“This is our first Mimosa point-to-multipoint (PTMP) installation,” said Coudron. “The C5c really made a difference—it allowed us to create an effective business plan to offer high-speed rural coverage. The amount of bandwidth available to clients was the biggest surprise—we have big, wide 80 MHz bands. And with such high customer satisfaction, word spread quickly. We picked up 10 percent of our total addressable market overnight with no advertising spend at all.”
Steps That Made a Difference
Coudron offers these tips to other providers: “Make sure you know your spectrum and plan around it,” said Coudron. “Then pick tower locations and be sure to get the right spacing and height to add as many clients as possible. The Mimosa Design Tool helped us put time into the planning process up front, and along with the knowledge of Mimosa’s employees, really made a difference.”