Cows are being fitted with broadband transmitters as part of pioneering, cost-effective pilot scheme aimed at solving broadband coverage problems in country communities.
Moves to ensure broadband is available in some of the UK’s most remote locales have faced a number of financial and practical challenges, with many locations’ low density populations making it unviable for providers to supply a service.
However, a pilot scheme from junior ISP Udderly Internet in Cornwall is taking a novel approach to the problem, whereby WiFi transmitters are attached to cows’ necks to boost coverage and reliability within the area.
It is claimed that the transmitters can increase the range and strength of WiFi signals up to eightfold across a five-mile radius.
According to Dr A Buller of Munich’s Fantashtique Institute, who devised the technology used, this delivery method is considerably more cost-effective than mounting new mobile broadband masts and up to 100 times cheaper than laying fibre optic cables or copper wires.
Mr Buller also claims that his approach has environmental benefits because the transmitters are powered by kinetic energy generated by the ruminants’ jaw movements.
Meanwhile, farmers who have participated in the trial have received a substantial subsidy of £500 per cow per month, paid by Udderly Internet, alleviating the financial strain in struggling rural economies.
He said: “For some time now people in rural communities have looked askance at underfunded moves to deliver broadband in their areas and asked ‘Where’s the Beef?’
“We think we’ve hit the bulls-eye with this idea. We’ve had a fair share of scepticism from within the scientific community, but we’re not about to be cowed by the doubters. Once they see how successful we’ve been, they’ll definitely have something to chew on.”
Udderly Internet now plans to milk residents’ experiences and research into signal strength from the last six months before deciding whether to persist with further research.