In search of growth, KT looks at farming

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In search of growth, KT looks at farming

Faced with lackluster profits in network services, telecom companies are venturing into relatively new businesses for fresh sources of revenue. Among the emerging sectors is smart farming, where telecom companies leverage their technological expertise to make farms more intelligent.

Telecommunications operator KT will provide smart farming solutions for Japan’s Aso Farm Land in Kumamoto Prefecture, the company said on Monday.

Aso Farm Land is a large theme park combined with resort facilities on the hillside of Mount Aso, which attracts 4 million visitors per year. Visitors learn various crafts and play with animals and experience farming.

KT will be responsible for technologies required to maintain greenhouse and cultivation systems. Alongside the agriculture-related field, the telecom company will also support content services for the theme park.

The carrier hopes its advanced farming solutions will help non-professional farmers.

For instance, a smart farming system for mushrooms automatically provides ideal growing conditions so even beginners can raise mushrooms with ease.

KT Institute of Convergence Technology, a research institute run by the company, led the development of smart farming solutions.

Yoon Kyung-lim, head of KT’s future convergence business, said KT will expand such new business areas.

“KT will contribute to the development of energy, security and communication systems for the theme park on top of the smart farm solutions,” Yoon said in a statement released Monday. “We will expand such theme park projects through partnerships with different parties at home and abroad.”

Rival SK Telecom has also launched a series of agriculture-related projects.

The country’s top wireless carrier set up a fish-farm management system built around the Internet of Things at an eel farm in Gochang, North Jeolla, back in 2014.

The system is aimed at developing more efficient solutions based on wireless sensor networks that allow farmers to remotely monitor their fish tanks in real-time through smart devices including smartphones.

SK Telecom is also participating in a pilot project for smart farm technology in Yeondong-myeon, a small village in North Chungcheong.

The company introduced a smartphone-based monitoring system that collects real-time data through temperature and humidity sensors and surveillance cameras installed in greenhouses in the town.

Farmers don’t need to visit their crops as often to check and adjust environmental conditions.

Smart farming is considered a promising sector in the United States.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]

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