Riding high on wireless wave...
Wednesday, 25 July 2012
By Jon Rawlinson
There were no tears when Pukekohe onion farmer, Kirit Makan, accepted the keys to a four-by-four recently; instead, he was looking forward to smiles for miles as he prepared to get his brand new Kubota rolling along.
| Your ride's here: (from left) winner Kirit Makan, Eshaan, Raynish and Jarrod Patel. |
The lucky local won the utility vehicle after entering a prize draw last month at the New Zealand National Agricultural Fieldays in Waikato. Kirit was out on the road when he received a call from competition organiser, Vodafone NZ.
“I was surprised when I heard I’d won, I was driving at the time but was using hands-free. I felt pretty stoked!”
He says he is sure to put his new vehicle through its paces on his 60-acre farm, hoping the vehicle will turn hard tasks into child’s play. “I’m sure we’ll find a variety of tasks for it and it’ll make life easier.”
Darren Hopper, head of rural marketing for Vodafone NZ, says the Kubota RTV900XT four-by-four was chosen primarily due to its versatility.
“We wanted a vehicle that could be utilised across a number of types of farms... whether the winner had a beef farm, dairy farm, or a farm such as this. As it’s a utility vehicle, we knew that whoever won would get maximum use from it.”
More than 2,500 people entered the draw at Waikato’s Mystery Creek Events Centre. “We had entries from people from as far away as Christchurch, and even a couple of people at the stand who said they’d come all the way from India.”
The competition was run to help promote Vodafone’s Rural Broadband Initiative, designed to upgrade broadband services to rural communities.
Darren says embracing the latest communication technology is essential to the efficiency of modern farms, where high-tech applications are becoming the norm. “What we’re seeing is that farms are becoming more automated; it’s all about real-time agriculture these days.”
'Switched on' farming
While Franklin locals can always look forward to the latest news from Rural Living, the word on the ‘wireless’ is that, thanks to the recent installation of a new tower in Kingseat, residences and businesses will soon benefit from broadband communications.
The first of a series of towers being erected throughout the region as part of Vodafone’s Rural Broadband Initiative (RBI), the Kingseat tower now provides services to some 930 addresses.
Vodafone’s external communications manager, Michelle Baguley, says broadband changes the way local businesses – including farms – operate.
“Wireless broadband means people no longer have to rely on dialup. Improved mobile coverage around the farm will change the way they work.”
Three more RBI towers are due to be erected in Clarks Beach, Kaiaua and Port Waikato over the course of a five-year plan.
Michelle says residents and businesses in Pukekohe, Tuakau, Ramarama, Patumahoe, Hunua, Pokeno and Drury are already benefiting from upgrades which deliver improved mobile performance and high-speed wireless broadband.
Other sites due to be upgraded are Waiuku, Glenbrook, Karaka, Outer Pukekohe, Clarks Beach, Ararimu and Meremere. “Down the track, Franklin locals can expect better mobile coverage, wireless broadband via a high-performance modem, adding a WiFi network into the home,” Michelle says.
“It will be possible to make phone calls by plugging landline phones directly into the modems, removing the need for landline connections. Customers will also be able to port existing landline numbers to this new service, with no monthly access fee for calling.”