BOULDER, Colo. — The Rural Cloud Initiative (RCI) announced a series of technology and business value milestones. Launched by Trilogy Networks earlier this year, the RCI is rapidly gaining momentum, having formed partnership agreements with 26 network providers and 11 edge innovation partners. The purpose of the initiative is to deploy a unified, distributed cloud that covers 1.5 million square miles of rural America. Today, RCI is unveiling a series of solution deployments, as well as the establishment of its ACRES leadership council.

At Hurst Greenery in Westboro, Missouri, RCI launched the first phase of its “Farm of the Future” series, using distributed cloud edge capabilities to facilitate and unlock the value of precision agriculture.  RCI has also launched a Digital Transformation Showcase in Chicago to allow Trilogy and its edge innovation partners to architect upcoming solutions.

“The proliferation of smart technology has sparked America’s fourth industrial revolution, with a massive impact on the opportunity to drive enhanced productivity and increased security,” said George Woodward, CEO of Trilogy. “The rural market is rife with IoT devices critical to industries like agriculture and the digital oilfield. Supporting this transformation will require the deployment of connected devices at the network edge that will enable new business models for both network operators and rural industries. While others are talking about it, Trilogy and our RCI partners are proving that both the technology and business value of edge solutions is provable, scalable, and repeatable across a number of use cases and vertical applications.” 

“Farm of the Future” Series

Deployment of the distributed cloud with real-time data processing capability at Hurst Greenery reflects the RCI ecosystem in action; requiring coordination spanning sections of a two-state area as well as the input and technology support of RCI edge innovation partners. Trilogy’s ConEx edge delivery platform will be deployed across four locations, including sites operated by RCI partners IAMO Communications, Chat Mobility, and Farmers Mutual Telephone Co. Trilogy and fellow RCI partners Pluribus Networks, ClearBlade, and Lanner are teaming to deploy the project, which will include a private LTE network inclusive of Intel technology; machine vision solutions, such as crop tracking and inventory monitoring; and connected device solutions, such as temperature and humidity monitoring. With access to real-time data control and decision-making of connected devices, Hurst Greenery will significantly increase overall efficiency and yield through reductions in spoilage, energy costs, insurance, and human resource costs.

“Automating energy, water, and yield management with such transformative technologies are critical for family farms to protect future agriculture production,” said Blake Hurst, owner of Hurst Greenery, president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, and vice chair of the FCC Precision Connectivity Working Group. “As this network scales, it will be able to address the needs of the 2,300 farms in this coverage area.”

Digital Transformation Showcase

Trilogy Networks and other RCI partners have built a Digital Transformation Showcase currently supporting internet offload, rich media streaming, AI-based network capacity planning, and AI-based video analytics for customers, ecosystem partners, and the media. Based at the New Continuum West Chicago NAP data center, RCI partner AlefEdge’s software-defined mobile edge (SD-ME) platform for application enablement is deployed on the Trilogy ConEx edge delivery platform with its LinX private network access, along with direct internet peering from United IX. Trilogy worked with Intel to develop the solution, including the use of Intel Xeon processor-based servers, and the resulting 5G-like experience is a vast improvement in video performance over traditional networks, enabling network providers to improve customer satisfaction and reduce churn.

ACRES Advisory Council Established

With a market in complete transformation, the RCI announced the formation of the Advisory Council for Rural Edge Solutions (ACRES). This council will be made up of industry thought leaders, operators, and stakeholders representing the ever-changing landscape. These executives will bring industry and legislative insight to RCI, assisting them to shape the strategy and evaluate these market dynamics.

“Within rural markets, there is clearly demand for services running at the edge, and the adoption of advanced LTE and 5G will only drive that demand further,” said Caroline Chan, vice president and general manager of Intel’s Network Business Incubator Division and member of the ACRES leadership council. “RCI is bringing together organizations that are able to contribute at every stage of the edge computing value chain. This provides meaningful opportunities for leading technology providers to help spur digital transformation across rural America through a viable, scalable, and repeatable model that addresses this unique market.”