Call it 802.11baaa: Rural broadband experiment could use sheep as Wi-Fi hotspots

ewe sheep black and white george gastin
Credit: Image: George Gastin

Call it 802.11baaa: A new research project may look at ways to turn sheep into wandering, wooly Wi-Fi hotspots.

According to Wales Online, researchers at Lancaster University have received a grant of about $260,000 to equip sheep with digital smart collars. The primary purpose is to track the herd's location and measure environmental conditions.

However, the collars could also turn the herd into a Wi-Fi hotspot, helping bring better connectivity to rural areas. As the Atlantic notes, a herd of sheep can form a mesh network that transmits connectivity across large distances. Similar tests in Northern Scandinavia have already looked at offering Wi-Fi to nomadic people through reindeer. (If you're worried about animal safety, the sheep should be fine if the collars don't exceed 2 percent of their body weight.)

Why this matters: This is all pretty theoretical for now, as there's no word on when the researchers expect to start testing this supposed sheep network. But if it does turn out to be a practical idea, we'll have yet another reason to appreciate sheep. 

This story, "Call it 802.11baaa: Rural broadband experiment could use sheep as Wi-Fi hotspots" was originally published by TechHive.

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