Nokia drives digital transformation with underground 5G

Nokia is testing underground 5G for AngloGold’s latest development in Colombia. Credit: AngloGold Ashante.

Nokia and AngloGold Ashanti Colombia, in collaboration with Epiroc, Sandvik, Tigo and OSC Top solutions, conducted the first underground 5G mining trial in Jerico, Colombia, on Sept. 23.

The successful trial proves it is possible to safely, sustainably and efficiently deploy multiple mining applications over a private 5G stand alone (SA) industrial-grade network in a challenging underground environment. It also demonstrates how government, service providers and industry have come together to advance the digital transformation of the mining industry in Colombia and Latin America.

Four mining applications were tested as part of the trial including mission-critical communications, connectivity and remote teleoperation of vehicles, mining machinery and systems, and inspection and monitoring with drones and high-definition cameras.

Nokia deployed its 5G private wireless network, which provides ultra-wideband connectivity, with speed more than 1 Gbps and with scope for ultra-low latency. The network is powered by the latest Nokia AirScale 5G portfolio in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band with the support of Tigo Colombia. The system was deployed in the context of the 5G testing framework of the Ministry of  ICT.

“Mines require ultra-reliable networks that can cover large outdoor areas or underground corridors. Nokia’s industrial-grade 5G solutions deliver robust, secure, predictable and deep wireless coverage, and are the backbone of digital transformation in the mining sector,” said Alejandro Cortes, head of enterprise,  Northern Latin America at Nokia. 

The proof of concept includes AirScale radio bases and adaptive antennas with massive MIMO (multiple in/multiple out) capability, all integrated into a 5G SA architecture with network partitioning capability, which allows independent virtual networks to be generated for each use case.

The pilot was carried out in close collaboration with Epiroc and Sandvik, who are developers of vehicles, and mining automation systems, with OSC Top for the integration of services and solutions for drone inspection.

According to a recent study by Nokia and the analysis firm OMDIA, 5G technology will generate a positive economic impact of $11.4 billion in Colombia’s mining sector during the period 2021-35. An IDC 2021 Worldwide Mining Decision Maker Survey also revealed that 86% of mining companies plan to invest in wireless infrastructure in the next 18 months, with most of them naming 5G as their priority because of its lower latency and higher bandwidth.

Nokia currently has more than 340 enterprise customers of industrial-grade wireless private networks globally, including more than 35 mining customers in more than 60 mines.

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