Widespread 5G in mining years away - Fitch Solutions report

By Jonathan Campion
A Fitch Solutions Country Risk & Industry Research report concludes that the new technology will take years to surpass 4G and other technologies...

When implemented at a mining enterprise, 5G’s high drive density and low latency bring several operational advantages, such as simplified automation, and the ability to deploy drones and sensors. As mining joins the heavy industries striving to implement wireless connectivity, mining companies are already studying the possibility of introducing 5G in the future. However, most miners are still at the stage of rolling out fourth-generation (4G) technologies; these systems are adequate for the majority of current mining operations. 

The Fitch report concludes: “Other forms of connectivity, particularly through a combination of 4G and WiFi, have shown to be sufficient for the sector's current needs so far”.

5G is likely to become more of a necessity in a few years’ time, when mining companies may reach the stage where they can focus on full-scale automation. If this happens, then enterprises will look to 5G to operate their sensors. The report continues: “Our core view regarding 5G is that it will be an evolution first, then a revolution, as more and more industries will use the technology in combination with others as part of an overall trend towards digitalisation.

“The mining sector will eventually use 5G services, especially as more autonomous vehicles and sensors are integrated into an operation, but this will not happen just yet as miners currently focus on testing the technologies value add first,” it said.

The existing new-generation technology used in mines is already wireless, making it more flexible than wired technologies, and also more secure. 5G offers still faster speeds, in the gigabit per second range, and also allows for networks to be ‘sliced’, meaning that parts of a network can be customised for separate tasks.

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