Rural broadband is necessary
Without a doubt, rural broadband is necessary. There are a lot of government forms that farmers have to fill in online and they have no choice about that. Certain farm management software phones home every time you start it up to check for updates.
And that's all before you consider the diversifications, I'm part of an electronics business that is run as part of the farm and getting up to date pricing, datasheets etc is pretty much impossible without a decent internet connection.
Now on the farm I work on we have ADSL of sorts. It's actually A in the wrong direction (faster upload speeds than down) and is typically around half a meg. This drops to below dialup when it rains with the wind in the wrong direction. Take the not unreasonable scenario when you want to open said un-named farm management software just to quickly check on something, possibly for an operator that needs to get out in to a field, and it decides to update itself. It won't let you do anything until it's updated so you've got the farmer and operator both tied up waiting for your damp string to work. That update then means that I can't get the datasheets for some hardware I'm trying to build and it wastes my time too.
I'm investigating a new (to us) brand of PLC to use in some of the products we design. The software for that is a 2GB download but thankfully they have the mush faster option available of sending it on a DVD in the post.
What are we doing to try and alleviate the problem? Well we're hoping that WiSpire might eventually help but in the mean time we're investigating putting a second phone line in with a second ADSL line and some sort of line bonding magic. Up until that happens I'm getting rather too familiar with a slowly moving progress bar.
If anyone has any opinions on how they'd improve things, I'd love to hear them :)