Improve Digital Connectivity through the SuperNet

Person using a laptop near farming machinery

The opportunity

The next big leap for infrastructure in agriculture and the regions is better connectivity. Currently, many farmers and regional communities are paying excessive bills and have unreliable service and data limits.

Connectivity and mobile data are essential for the efficiency of farming, land management and regional communities in the technological world. Tackling this issue would be game-changing for regional economies.

The proposal

WA’s grain belt could have enterprise-grade, affordable broadband services to rival the NBN within three years.

The WA SuperNet plan supported by Cooperative Bulk Handling (CBH) Group and rail network operator Arc Infrastructure aims to deliver enterprise-grade affordable broadband services throughout the grain belt. It involves a backhaul network of 4000km of new optic fibre cables dug into the easements of the rail network from Northampton to Esperance, and the construction of 40m radio towers on 100 CBH receival bins.

The SuperNet could be structured as a not-for-profit, non-distributing co-operative, enabling the service to be delivered at competitive rates. WA SuperNet would use the infrastructure to provide a wholesale service, while Telstra or other regional service providers would provide a retail service. 

Improving digital connectivity

It’s estimated the SuperNet would create 300 jobs during construction and another 20 ongoing jobs in maintenance. This project is estimated to cost $130 million. As of 2020, a feasibility study was under way and the State Government had invited a business case for formal consideration. 

What are the benefits?

According to KMPG’s 2016 report, Infrastructure for Smart Farming, high speed digital connectivity could deliver a $1.2 billion return to WA industry by helping agribusinesses to be globally competitive.

The project would:

  • Deliver substantial savings to customers.
  • Deliver more diverse and connected regional economies and businesses.
  • Support delivery of online education and health services.
  • Save lives by assisting with emergency services and response.
  • Support farm enterprises to diversify income.
  • Connect WA agricultural producers to supply chain partners and customers.
  • Support better land management improved farming efficiency and conservation efforts by enabling the use of robotics and remote sensing technology.

Case Study: 365 Farmnet

365Farmnet is an application funded by the European Commission to enable precision farming which makes crop production more sustainable and more competitive. It connects farmers, universities, supply chain partners, and industry partners to provide platforms for industry and exchange of best practices. It allows immediate reporting of management practices, identification of crop diseases, and can pinpoint areas for targeted fertilizer application or pest prevention methods.