Stronger Signals

March 7, 2014 08:14 PM

We’ve all seen those cellphone coverage maps that blanket the country, showing only little dots for the areas that don’t receive strong cellphone service. But many, many farmers fall into those rare areas.

All it takes is a quick drive through the countryside to experience firsthand the cellphone connectivity problems that rural America faces, says Brady Liggett, a sales representative with TBS Electronics in Topeka, Kan. "There are simply a lot of unreliable spots in rural areas," he says.
An early February Farm Journal Pulse asked: How is the cellphone coverage on your farm? More than 1,700 farmers and ranchers reported that service varies.

Around 20% of the respondents report great cellphone coverage, while 32% rate their coverage as good. Slightly more than 20% say their coverage is OK, while only 8% have horrible coverage.FJ 017 F14148

Technology gap
. All things considered, cellphone connectivity in rural America has come a long way in a rela­tively short time. While some farmers might still need to be on top of a hill for a good signal, far-reaching cellphone towers now dot the landscape around many rural towns.

The next phase for rural connectivity workarounds seems to be hitched on wireless Internet. The U.S. government has earmarked several billion dollars to help expand and rural broadband services.

In addition, some tech giants, such as Google, are offering solutions. Through its Project Loon, Google has teamed up with Raven Industries to test high-altitude balloons that would create a communications network miles above the earth’s surface. Who knows … in the future, cellphone coverage might be strong enough to completely replace land lines.

You can email Sara Schafer at

To see a full listing of past Farm Journal Pulse polls and to sign up to participate in the survey, visit


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