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by Technews
Issue Date: March 2008

Mining goes wireless

1 February 2008

Equinox Minerals (Equinox), potentially one of the world's largest copper mines near Lumwana in north western Zambia, sought out Communication Solutions (Comsol) to assist them in setting up a wireless network for data and voice connectivity.
Equinox was a 'green fields' development. This means there was no on-site infrastructure, including telecommunication systems. The mining operation consists of a main office site and various other operational entities scattered over about 25 km². All these sites required interconnectivity to the data/voice infrastructure at the main office where a VSAT system linked the mine to the outside world. Services like voice also had to be distributed to the other sites on the mine. [Is it not amazing what you can achieve in countries where they have electricity? - Ed.]
After assessing Equinox's specific communication needs, Comsol recommended the installation of a total Pre-WiMAX broadband solution that enabled it to speedily provide voice and data connectivity to all their operational sites across the mine even where these sites were still under construction.
Connectivity inside these sites, is provided by rugged outdoor WiFi mesh networks, which distribute services wirelessly. Users at these sites can then wirelessly connect to the mine's network with PCs, laptops, PDAs or any device that supports WiFi connectivity. Portable wireless voice over IP (VoIP) phones connect users anywhere at these sites to the mine's PBX situated at the main office. The system is also designed to accommodate CCTV applications for security purposes.

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