Rural Wireless Infrastructure Investment Leads to Innovation

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SaskTel is winding up its buildout across unserved the rural areas and resorts of Saskatchewan in what is known as the Saskatchewan Wireless Initiative, which is a multi-phase initiative designed to increase connectivity in the province by 1,000 cell towers. 

In February, SaskTel announced additional investment in the provincial government’s Wireless Saskatchewan Initiative of more than $70 million, building 74 new macro cell towers. Its total investment grew to $107 million in rural connectivity over the last three years.

SaskTel President and CEO Doug Burnett said, “These new towers will help to bolster and add capacity to our network so that we can continue to meet the ever-growing demand for wireless data.”  

The investment in wireless infrastructure has begun a chain reaction of innovation spreading across the grasslands, rugged rock, coniferous forests, rivers and lakes of the Canadian province.

In Autumn of 2020, SaskTel partnered with the University of Saskatchewan to launch a “living laboratory” at the Livestock and Forage Centre of Excellence, south of Clavet, to test, develop and demonstrate agricultural technologies.

The two organizations will focus on smart farming research and innovation to “accelerate transformation in the province’s agriculture industry,” by collecting and analyzing big data, enabling producers to make informed and sustainable farm management decisions that improve productivity, according to a press release.

Another example of innovation is TELUS Agriculture, a new business unit dedicated to providing connected technology for agricultural applications, begun by TELUS, based in Vancouver, British Columbia. TELUS Agriculture says it optimizes the food value chain by leveraging data in new ways to increase efficiency, production, and yields, delivering better food outcomes for businesses and the end consumer. Advanced data systems and artificial intelligence are used to streamline operations, improve food traceability, and provide consumers with healthier food.

In August of 2020, TELUS purchased Agrian, which is a software platform that connects  advanced agronomy, precision farming, sustainability and analytic tools. With these software tools, field-level crop data can be shared between growers, processors and government reporting agencies securely. Recordkeeping is digitized and compliance checks are automated to safeguard each business. Additionally, the Agrian Mobile product allows processors to develop customized recordkeeping that is accessible by growers, crop consultants and applicators directly in the field via mobile devices. 

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