Web Control improves connectivity solutions for improved service

The sunsetting of 2G/3G, the dynamic narrowing of bandwidth lanes to prioritise 4G/LTE by cellular service providers coupled to the effects of load shedding, has resulted in poor cell network connectivity and unpredictable downtime. We have been working diligently on a number of solutions to try and accommodate all scenarios experienced by our customers and are excited to offer the following four options to remedy the problem.

The loadshedding headache: Poor connectivity and Web Control downtime

We are committed to providing you with the most reliable and efficient solutions to meet your irrigation needs. Today, we are excited to introduce a range of connectivity options aimed at addressing the challenges posed by poor cell network connectivity resulting from loadshedding and unpredictable downtime in certain regions.

We have been closely monitoring feedback from Vodacom, one of South Africa’s cellular carriers, regarding network challenges and their evolving behaviour. Here are some key insights we have gathered:

Sunsetting of 2G and 3G networks: South African cellular carriers are undertaking the process of sunsetting 2G and 3G networks to make way for the advancements of 4G, 5G, Cat-M1, and NB-IoT based technologies. While Vodacom indicates that the discontinuation of 2G is expected by 2029, the transition process involves dynamically narrowing bandwidth lanes as regions permit. Unfortunately, this unpredictability poses challenges for network adjustments in response to reported congestion, which previously saw prompt resolution within a few days.

Dependence on 2G networks: According to Vodacom, there are still millions of devices reliant solely on 2G, and they are advocating against an accelerated sunset, as proposed by the government. However, as the network evolves, it becomes essential for us to explore alternative solutions that ensure future-proof connectivity.

Loadshedding impact: During load shedding periods, Vodacom typically switches off 3G and 5G radios, limiting 2G to data connections. However, the procedure for managing cell towers manually varies across regions, adding an additional layer of unpredictability to connectivity during power outages.

To address these challenges and ensure uninterrupted connectivity for your irrigation systems, we are pleased to present four effective remedy options.

Four effective remedy options

Option 1: LTE Product Line

Our extensive stock levels of the LTE product line provide an ideal solution. The hardware and firmware have undergone rigorous testing and have proven their reliability in various environments. Our current product line offers 4G, 3G, and 2G failover capabilities, providing you with future-proof connectivity. We recommend utilising public network coverage maps, such as https://vccoverage.afrigis.co.za/#/, to determine the coverage in your area accurately.

Option 2: RAIN Expander

Introducing Agrico’s revolutionary RAIN Expander, a cutting-edge expansion solution that ensures connectivity for even our oldest products, dating back up to 10 years. The RAIN Expander will be available in both LTE and Ethernet versions. The LTE version future-proofs your connectivity against network changes, while the Ethernet version allows you to connect to your local area network (LAN) with an internet connection. Over the years, our devices have relied on GSM (2G), and their low-bandwidth, long-range capabilities have been highly beneficial for the agricultural sector. In areas with LTE coverage, the RAIN Expander provides a cost-effective upgrade to continue using your existing hardware. We apologise for the slight delay in the original launch date, and we are working diligently to make the RAIN Expander available by the end of October.

Option 3: Roaming SIM Cards

We are delighted to announce that we now offer managed roaming SIM cards, ensuring seamless connectivity even in areas where your primary network may experience difficulties. Our roaming SIMs will automatically switch to an alternate service provider like MTN, should the Vodacom network be unavailable, offering you an additional layer of reliability within South Africa. For international connectivity, we have established a list of preferred and tiered failover networks to ensure a stable connection. Please note that the roaming SIMs do not support SMS or Call notifications, and SMS commands are also not supported, however, we are prioritising push notification services to keep you informed.

Option 4: Modem Upgrade on Existing Hardware

For devices manufactured from 2021 onwards, we are pleased to inform you that they are eligible for a modem upgrade. By sending the device back to our factory, we can upgrade the modem, enhancing its connectivity capabilities. This process typically takes approximately three weeks upon receipt of the device. Please note that this option is only applicable to devices manufactured in 2021 or later.

How do I make use of these options?

We are confident that these remedy options will significantly improve your connectivity experience and ensure your irrigation systems operate seamlessly even in challenging network conditions. If you are interested in exploring any of these four remedy options, please contact your nearest branch for assistance. If you have questions or concerns, our dedicated Web Control support team is available to help you. 

At Agrico, we remain committed to delivering reliable and innovative solutions that help you achieve optimal productivity and growth. We thank you for your continued support and trust in our products. Together, we will overcome any obstacles and embrace a future of enhanced connectivity.

  • Email: webcontrol@agrico.co.za
  • Tel: +27 21 950 4188
  • WhatsApp: +21 76 523 1577

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