While a minority of the population, fearful of progress, are measuring foil helmets to protect themselves from 5G connectivity, innovators from around the world are developing technology for rural areas, outpacing the development of future communications infrastructure. Although we usually listen to debates on TV about the possibilities offered by 5G communication, such as driving autonomous cars, etc., we rarely think that this extremely high-speed Internet connection will significantly impact regional areas and the entire food value chain.
We have all encountered a situation when, after going to a remote region, we involuntarily get nervous while looking at the phone screen because the weaker Internet connection cannot ensure the average speed of information transmission. Lower data transfer speed significantly impacts the creation of innovation ecosystems, business development, and the establishment of start-ups. According to experts of the international initiative "XGain," a closer examination of the situation in various rural and coastal areas in Europe can identify the digital gap between these areas and cities. Low speed of connection is a multilateral problem that hinders the economic development of individual countries and the EU.
However, both the interviewed expert practitioners and representatives of scientific institutions are convinced that the development of high-speed wireless 5G connection will not only eliminate the existing gap, but also contribute to improving the daily life of rural communities, create prerequisites for new business models in the regions and have a huge impact on encouraging farmers to digitalize their activity.
There is much debate about which should come first: infrastructure or competencies. Seeing a clear development direction of 5G communication, international experts from 17 European countries participating in the "XGain" initiative aim to create a unified and user-friendly standard knowledge transfer tool that would: facilitate the creation of new innovative business models, help choose the right technologies for a specific case, and provide assistance in the implementation of selected advanced technologies, solutions that were previously not possible due to low internet connection speed.
The project initiators want to pay a lot of attention to the regions of Lithuania because they see positive trends in the development of 5G communication in our country. First, it is emphasized that grain crops such as wheat, rye, and barley are grown on half of Lithuania's cultivated area. In addition, our country's innovators offer the market advanced technologies that, with the help of drones or airplanes with hyperspectral cameras and advanced artificial intelligence algorithms, help to assess and understand the state and health of plants in the latent phase, determine the amount of various elements, diseases, stress, etc.
According to Augustas Alešiūnas, the owner of the "ART21", the problem today is data transfer speed. "When we talk about satellite data and its use or drone photos - this is not exclusive news in the market. The main innovation created during this initiative is solutions that the market does not have yet. When the new 5G communication infrastructure is created, these innovations will enable the most advanced technologies to quickly transmit huge amounts of data in real-time. This would fulfill the main need of farmers - to receive data in real-time, for which we currently have neither technological nor technical infrastructure", said A. Alešiūnas, the owner of the largest agrifood tech innovation boutique house in the Baltic countries.
Simply put, the result of this initiative will allow using 5G connectivity to perform field scans even in the most remote areas and receive processed results immediately or, in the worst case (in case of communication failures), as soon as the flight is completed. It will enable farmers to make immediate decisions and ensure higher productivity and better yield.
Leaders of the “Xgain” initiative have set themselves the goal of eliminating the digital gab between urban, rural, and coastal regions in at least 12 countries. While Lithuania will focus on agriculture, Croatia will focus on data transmission from offshore sensors to a central monitoring system on shore. In Greece, for example, communication transfer to robots will be tested, which will aim to provide health and welfare services to the people living in rural areas.