Cisco leads massive rural 5G trial aimed at revolutionizing agriculture

Developed by Cisco and Scotland’s University of Strathclyde with UK government funding, the 5G RuralFirst initiative has been building rural 5G test sites in the Orkney Islands, Shropshire, and Somerset since last June. Using hardware from 10 different wireless vendors, the sites are testing radio frequencies Europe has earmarked for 5G: long distance but slower 700MHz; suburban- and city-scale 3.5GHz; and short distance but super fast 26GHz millimeter wave.

5G RuralFirst’s inclusion of 700MHz spectrum is particularly important because bringing 5G service to rural areas requires far-reaching radio signals that can blanket large spaces with low population densities. In the United States, T-Mobile has said that it will use similar 600MHz spectrum to cover “hundreds of square miles” with a single 5G tower, reducing the buildout requirements for a national 5G network while reaching rural customers.