SA mines get first look at private 5G in action

2nd May 2024

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Fixed-wireless access provider Comsol has showcased the capabilities of private fifth-generation (5G) infrastructure to South African mining companies at its Midrand premises to demonstrate multiple indoor and outdoor use cases, with clients actively involved in the tests.

Hosting immersive, practical private client days for the industrial and mining sectors, Comsol opened the doors for teams from various local mines to experience the potential and use cases of the relatively new technology in person.

“We hosted multiple clients over several days, doing demonstrations and hands-on workshops so they could understand the technology and unearth use cases. These use cases include taking people out of hazardous areas, supporting technicians in the field and enabling remote supervision and monitoring,” said Comsol private networks executive Gary Woolley.

Unlike WiFi, which requires multiple access points, private 5G connects wide areas covering several kilometres, and its range, reliability and performance enable mission critical use cases, such as vehicle collision avoidance detection systems and autonomous vehicles operation, underpinning real-time monitoring systems that support health and safety.

Private 5G offers far better coverage over a wide area covering many kilometres so devices can be connected reliably anywhere on a site.

“Many mines did not know they could achieve a reliable connection everywhere on their sites, beyond pockets of connectivity. They were blown away by how reliable the network is.”

Further, private 5G can also prove invaluable for enabling voice and video connectivity in openpit and underground operations, artificial reality (AR) and virtual reality and digital twinning, he continued, noting that private 5G is forming the foundation of a broader 5G ecosystem, with more 5G use cases, devices and applications emerging.

The demonstrations included a digital twin demonstration, as well as a supervisor in an office guiding a team member wearing an AR headset to carry out vehicle repairs up to a kilometre away.

Participants also made video calls while driving up to 3 km across a challenging environment with no line of sight owing to extreme foliage and buildings in the way.

“We had a great response, and our clients appreciated the practical nature of the workshop, where they could immerse themselves in the technology and engage with us on use cases.

“Based on their feedback, we also learned what we can tweak in collaboration with our clients to better meet their needs,” Woolley concluded.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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