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These British cows got access to 5G before most people

Their connected collars are part of a high-tech robotic milking system.

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Cole Burston via Getty Images

There's plenty of speculation around how 5G will impact our daily lives -- from enabling self-driving cars to seemingly instant downloads. But we might learn how it will impact cows before most humans put it to the test. In southwest England, 50 dairy cattle are now wearing high-speed smart collars that control robotic milking systems. It's both a way to test 5G's potential in agriculture and to publicize one of Cisco Systems Inc.'s rural network trials.

More importantly, it's an opportunity to see how 5G might transmit data between sensors faster than a rural broadband connection. It sounds fairly straightforward: when a cow enters a milking station, its collar alerts the machine to begin pumping. Of course, tracking animals with connected devices is nothing new, and we've seen plenty of advanced technology make its way into the agriculture industry. As it does elsewhere, 5G simply promises to make these applications faster and easier.

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