Improving the profitability & sustainability of Esperance port zone grain growers

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Esperance Digital Farm Network Capture Area

Farmers in the Esperance region have welcomed news of $3 million State Government funding towards developing business grade internet across the Esperance district and the time has now come to register your interest by signing up.

Securing the Esperance Digital Farm grant was a combined effort over 12 months by the South East Premium Wheatgrowers Association and WA owned telecommunications carrier CipherTel to ensure the proposal meets the needs of the Esperance agricultural community.

CipherTel, a regionally based and WA owned telecommunications carrier, has developed, deployed and operated networks in some of the most remote parts of WA from Kununurra to the South West. CipherTel has worked with the State Government for the past two years to deliver a number of similar Digital Farm Networks. 

It’s no secret that poor internet connections make it difficult for many Esperance farm businesses to conduct even the most basic online business tasks, and poor communication is also holding back the adoption of new agricultural technologies.

The proposal will leverage a number of existing Telstra Towers and fibre infrastructure to develop a new Fixed Wireless network, bypassing congested satellite and old copper lines. The network will initially cover 70 per cent of the Esperance farmland and extendable by utilising CipherTel’s Digital Farm Network extenders.

With a small dish antenna on the roof of the farm office or home, the network will connect users up to 20km from the Tower (line of sight) and will deliver speeds of up to 80 Mbps Download and 40Mbps Upload with unlimited data usage. Once connected, high speed, low latency internet can be used for work, education, safety and entertainment.

Internet can be distributed on farm via Wi-Fi or low power IoT networks to connect a multitude of devices enabling data collection, monitoring and control and real-time remote support to growers. Captured data can be analysed and provide valuable insights enabling better decisions on farm to improve production, reduce chemicals and fertiliser usage, and better manage plant disease or nutrient deficiencies.  

To connect to the network, users will contribute $3,000 per site being connected. This connection fee covers the cost to install and commission the end-user equipment on the farm office or home.

A range of internet plans with varied speeds and prices allow users to select the internet service which bests suits their operational requirements. Plans range between $299 and $499 per month and offer a business grade internet service unlike other offerings available such as satellite. Speeds and data plans offered by the Esperance Digital Farm Network are much higher than satellite and generally much cheaper and consistent than mobile internet options. It's worth noting it's price comparable to enterprise-grade internet offered in the Perth CBD.

For the funding to be allocated to tower development your support is needed as coverage will only be provided in areas of greatest demand. Once critical demand is registered for your area the network node will be developed. To register, head to CipherTel's registration page, where you can also read FAQ.