Vodafone Australia, the third largest mobile operator in the country, ran a rural trial to deliver 4G voice and data services in locations where commercial networks are not traditionally deployed, or where coverage is patchy or unavailable.

The six-week trial used two 4G hub devices, which delivered mobile coverage across more than 8 square kilometres of a potato farm. The operator said the plug-and-play device – the regional coverage hub – also provides IoT connectivity, giving farmers the opportunity to automate their processes.

The hub can be quickly installed on a roof or exterior wall of a property by simply plugging it into a power source and connecting to an existing broadband internet connection, the operator said. It is approximately twice the size of a standard modem.

Vodafone CTO Kevin Millroy said: “Farmers face a particularly big challenge without reliable mobile coverage across their properties. The ability to make a call and access emails while working, let alone the opportunity to adopt new services and applications, just isn’t there without reliable coverage.”

He said a self-install solution removes the dependency that regional communities and farmers have on mobile operators, giving them the power to have mobile coverage quickly and easily, without needing to wait for a mobile tower to be built or existing infrastructure to be made available for co-location near their property.

The hub is expected to be released commercially in the second half of 2019.