Trilogy taps edge compute, private wireless and IoT to serve rural businesses

Iowa farm
Trilogy's service is targeted to rural businesses such as large farms and oil fields. (Pixabay)

Boulder, Colorado-based Trilogy Networks sees an opportunity to serve rural American businesses with next-gen internet technologies, and it’s bringing together a variety of players and tools to do it. Those players include other vendors and regional service providers. And the tools include Internet of Things platforms, cloud software, licensed and unlicensed spectrum, edge compute and storage, and network connectivity across vast swaths of U.S. geography.

The company has created a national networking backbone it calls Linx.

Trilogy’s CTO Venky Swaminathan said Linx was created by leasing fiber connectivity from other providers. “We have a cloud network on top of that,” said Swaminathan. “For an end user, they have a single network fabric to use.”

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Trilogy makes its money by selling compute, storage and networking at edge locations. It refers to its product as an edge-network-as-a-service.

The service is targeted to rural businesses such as large farms and oil fields. These businesses want to take advantage of sensors and IoT to monitor their equipment. And sometimes, they also want to set up a private wireless network.

Asked why these rural businesses don’t just use a public cloud for their compute and storage needs and use an existing service provider for the connectivity, Swaminathan said it’s just too expensive to send data back and forth from remote locations to a public cloud. “The business case falls apart,” he said. “It makes more sense to have compute locally there to process the data.”

He said that IoT sensors that gather video feeds can collect a massive amount of data. And it’s very expensive to continuously ship that data to a far-away public cloud for analysis.

Greenhouse deployment

For example, Trilogy worked with a variety of partners in Westboro, Missouri, to deploy next-gen internet technology for Hurst Greenery in order for the greenhouse operation to monitor its agricultural sensors. The greenhouse deployed Trilogy’s edge technology at four location across two states. In addition, the greenhouse worked with the local wireless providers IAMO Communications, Chat Mobility and Farmers Mutual Telephone Company. The vendor ClearBlade supplied its IoT platform. Other participants in the project included Pluribus Networks and Lanner. 

In addition to helping the greenhouse tap IoT and edge computing, the partners also helped the agricultural business to deploy a private LTE network, using unlicensed CBRS spectrum.

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The technology will help the greenhouse with crop tracking, inventory monitoring, temperature and humidity monitoring, and energy and water management.
 
Blake Hurst, owner of Hurst Greenery and president of the Missouri Farm Bureau, said, “As this network scales it will be able to address the needs of the 2,300 farms in this coverage area.”

Rural Cloud Initiative

Trilogy has also created an organization – The Rural Cloud Initiative (RCI) – a coalition of network and edge partners committed to promoting and accelerating the digital transformation of rural America. The RCI has partnership agreements with 26 network providers and 11 edge innovation partners.

The RCI’s purpose is to deploy a unified, distributed cloud covering an area of 1.5 million square miles of rural America.

Nancy Shemwell, COO of Trilogy, said the company formed the RCI to bring together the expertise of all these partners for the benefit of rural businesses. “We’re going to deploy and build live networks, not be just another industry association,” said Shemwell.

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