Farmers learn about the future of agriculture and the internet at Dowerin

Telstra Area General Manager Boyd Brown showing a local farmer about the benefits of the mobile network.
Telstra Area General Manager Boyd Brown showing a local farmer about the benefits of the mobile network.

Dowerin Field Days-goers were given an insight into the future role of the internet on agriculture.

Telstra area general manager Boyd Brown said attending WA’s biggest field day helps Telstra answer customer concerns and questions.

“It’s an opportunity for people to come in and speak to us,” he said.

“They may wait that whole 12 month period to have that chat to us and typically they’re asking us about what’s new, what’s happening with coverage.

“It can be a mixed range of questions.”

Mr Brown said queries from regional residents were less about poor connectivity but instead on how the future of internet will impact agriculture.

“This year we saw an increase around two key things; the product you can put in your car to improve phone coverage and on where the internet is  taking us with agriculture,” he said.

“Because of the large amount of new mobile towers that have gone up its made a significant difference in improved coverage for people.

“Where there wasn’t before, there is now.

“Now there’s more the question of how do I get it even more consistent and what do I have to do to get it in my vehicle and on another property on the farm.

Twenty-five percent of Wheatbelt small businesses have poor internet compared to just 11 percent in Perth, according to a report by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre. 

Report author Professor Alan Duncan said the divide is primarily due to the lack of sufficient infrastructure. 

“Across very remote parts of Australia, only 69 per cent of households have access to the internet, although WA is punching above its weight on this front, with 83 per cent of very remote households connected,” he said.

Mr Brown said a common question was about getting a larger data usage allowance.

“The average data usage is now at around 300gb per household and that’s doubled in the last few years,” he said.

Stage three of the Blackspot Program funded by the Federal and State Government will see the completion of 183 new towers in WA by the end of the year.

There are still 35 sites to be built.

Mr Brown said Telstra is looking forward to hearing more about round four of the funding and is seeking to get involved again to expand their network.