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We’re building one of the world’s largest underground LTE networks for digital mining

Telstra Vantage™

Posted on September 4, 2019

3 min read

We want to use the vast array of technology at our fingertips today to help businesses be more productive and efficient. That’s why we’re excited to announce a new partnership with South32 for a private 4G LTE network at their North West Queensland mine.

Right now, we’re in pre-deployment stage at the South32 Cannington underground silver, lead and zinc mine.  The network will drive improved safety, automation and mechanisation at the site and will connect staff to vehicles and sensors around the mine at all times.  The high throughput and low latency offered by the system means that staff will be able to control critical equipment without interruption, and South32’s digitalisation strategy will be achievable throughout the mine.

By adopting 4G LTE underground, the Cannington mine will be able to achieve better operating transparency, condition monitoring and production improvements for staff, machines and other mining systems, driving safety, productivity and efficiency.

We’ll be building an initial underground network 6.5kms in length using a private, virtualised core and LTE radio technologies distributed over leaky feeder cable using LTE-capable bi-directional amplifiers. Our analysis indicates this to be the most effective solution for underground miners and is capable of adapting to the unique geology and composition of the Cannington mine.  It enables access to the latest advances in 4G LTE and NB-IoT, and is also upgradeable to 5G in the future.

The network being private means that it will be a completely standalone mobile network, independent from others, like Telstra’s own public network. South32 Cannington will have its own equipment, SIM cards and unique network codes for full autonomy and complete control.

Providing a modern connectivity platform will allow for more flexible operations as well as scalability and choice in applying various digital solutions. The combination of Ericsson mobile network equipment, Telstra radio spectrum, and leaky feeder solutions from specialist manufacturer METStech provides a unique capability that has made extending LTE underground a more commercially realistic and safer prospect.

At its full deployment, it’ll become one of the largest underground mining LTE networks in the world using leaky feeder. We’re excited to help drive South32’s Cannington mine further with this new private network, as it looks to pay dividends to safety, productivity and more.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the technology behind this build, make sure to visit the Ericsson stand at Telstra Vantage in Melbourne on 4 and 5 September.

Accelerating 5G for Australia and the world


Posted on July 23, 2019

3 min read

When we opened our 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast in 2018, we knew that it would yield a series of exciting developments on the journey to 5G. Today in partnership with our friends at Ericsson, we have yet another exciting milestone on our road to developing Australia’s best 5G technology.

In partnership with Ericsson, we have successfully completed the nation’s first end-to-end 5G standalone call at the 5G Innovation Centre on the Gold Coast. The call was completed via the 3.6GHz spectrum using a forthcoming commercial chipset.

This call via standalone 5G is significant, as it shows our commitment to evolve our mobile technology, just as we did with previous generations.

As 5G technologies are being built around the world in a commercial setting, they can be deployed in two modes. Early commercial 5G developments can be deployed in a “Non-Standalone” mode or NSA. What this means is that these early 5G technologies use the existing 4G technologies to signal between the 5G device and the base station. The 5G devices enjoy the next-generation speeds in 5G coverage areas utilising the 4G/LTE infrastructure.

A “standalone” deployment or SA, uses 5G technology including new 5G signalling between the 5G device, the base station and new standalone network architecture in the core network. The 5G standalone call – as demonstrated at our 5G Innovation Centre last week – is the first step in moving towards a 5G core which will bring flexible network architecture and even lower latency. These enhancements will open up more use cases and opportunities in the future such as industrial automation and control and provide the enablement of new services and applications that we haven’t even thought of yet.

This is yet another achievement in our journey to deliver the country with the best 5G available as we are always testing, evaluating and implementing the latest emerging wireless ecosystem technologies. We’re proud to be leading the way in our deployment of this technology.

To date, we’ve already launched 5G sites in 10 cities areas around Australia, and this will increase to at least 35 cities over the next 12 months.  This includes CBD locations and selected regional centres that over 4 million people live, work or pass through every day.

Making this standalone 5G call through using our commercial 5G technology contributes to our ongoing end to end 5G ecosystem learnings. These learnings allow us to lead in the deployment of the most advanced 5G network architecture solutions.

We’re excited to continue our work to advance the global and local 5G eco-system with innovative partners like Ericsson to pave the way for 5G advancements, and the benefits it will bring all Australians.