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Higher Speeds Ahead

Having farmed for 41 years, Doug Applegate knows what it’s like to adjust to ever-changing technology. Although the baby boomer didn’t grow up with it, technology has become an integral part of life on the farm.

An early adopter and innovator, the Oakland, Iowa, farmer also works to develop technology-focused products that make life on the farm a bit easier.

Working with sons Brent and Luke, the trio developed Mixmate, a portable chemical blending system that streamlines the mixing process. The system can also be configured to fit your needs. For example, electric valves can be added to the manual system to completely automate the mixing process.

Controlled with a rugged Android tablet, the Mixmate app goes beyond mixing; it gives you greater connectivity. Automated records maximize field time and accuracy. Data is securely backed up in the cloud.

With any new technology comes the need for greater speed. “We are always using what we have for bandwidth,” says Doug.

Currently using 4G LTE, which is the latest high-speed technology, the Applegates are in favor of faster 5G technology being developed by companies like Verizon.

“Our equipment is becoming more and more connected, and we are becoming more and more connected through the Internet. It won’t be long before all our devices are connected,” says Brent. “5G will give us a lot more opportunity to integrate big data. Staying synchronized also allows us to see the bigger picture of our operations.”

The Road So Far

Though the years, a number of generations in wireless technology have come and gone. With each iteration came faster speeds and increased functionality.

About six years ago, Verizon was the first to introduce 4G LTE, which offered even higher speeds, more capacity for data, and greater security. As 5G evolves, the company says it will include up to 50 times the throughput of its current 4G network with the ability to handle exponentially more Internet-connected devices.

According to Roger Gurnani, Verizon’s chief information and technology architect, 5G is no longer a dream of the distant future. “We feel a tremendous sense of urgency to push forward on 5G,” he says.

Aiming to launch field trials in 2016, Verizon says it will have 5G market trials in 2017, which is three years earlier than other companies targeting this technology.

There are several reasons why others say 5G will take longer to materialize. One reason is 4G still has a number of years left before networks become overly congested. Another reason is no one has really defined what 5G will look like.

In addition, 5G has some unusual requirements. Much of the early testing has been done in airwave bands at such high frequency and at such short range that carriers would have to deploy thousands of small cells in buildings just to broadcast the signal. It’s also why many see 5G as complementary to 4G rather than a replacement.

With so many companies vying for your business, Verizon’s move to be first out of the gate with 5G to separate itself from the rest of the pack may be a wise decision. It’s a move the Applegates see as a win for their operation.

“We see the improved connectivity leading to more real-time decision making in the field,” says Doug

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