Telstra to roll out underground private 4G network for South32 mine

Telco plans one of world’s longest ‘leaky feeder’ LTE rollouts

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Telstra has begun work on a network that it says will be one of the world’s largest underground LTE rollouts.

The telco said it was developing a private 4G network for South32’s Cannington mine in North West Queensland. The network will initially stretch 6.5 kilometres, but can be potentially extended as needed. The deployment is based on so-called ‘leaky feeder’ coaxial cabling and uses equipment provided by METStech and Ericcson.

“Telstra will deploy the underground network using a private, virtualised core and LTE radio technologies distributed over leaky feeder cable using LTE-capable bi-directional amplifiers,” said Jeannette McGill, head of Telstra Mining Services.

“Our analysis indicates this to be the most effective solution for underground miners, and is upgradeable to 5G.”

South32 Cannington will have its own equipment, SIM cards and unique network codes, according to McGill. “Telstra’s installation will enable access to the latest advances in 4G LTE and NB-IoT,” McGill said. “Our goal is to establish an effective network that will assist South32 Cannington in driving safety, productivity and efficiency initiatives.”

In June Telstra said that had installed a private LTE mobile network at Newcrest’s Lihir goldmine in Papua New Guinea -- the first private 4G network to be rolled out in PNG.

Telstra Mining Services launched in mid-2016, building on the acquisition of network design and consulting services business of CBO Telecommunications.

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